HARRIMAN, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Despite their best efforts, veterans, congressmen and a good deal couldn't persuade the Department of Veterans Affairs to bring a VA hospital to Roane county. But the fight for the hospital is far from over.
The hope was to locate the VA hospital in what's currently the Roane County Medical Center. The center is moving to a new location in February, and the City of Harriman offered to lease the building to the VA for just a dollar.
Back in July, hundreds of veterans rallied to show their support for the plan - the nearest other VA hospitals are in Murfreesboro and Johnson City.
"It's very important because when you're sick, or you feel bad or you're nursing a wound, then a travel of 3 hours or more for care is just worse than inconvenient," said Steve McBay, who served in the US Army.
Local Congressmen and US Senator Lamar Alexander are also on board, but the VA sent a letter to Senator Alexander's office denying their request since the number of veterans living in the 12 county area is dropping.
"We've been working with Roane County to try to make their best case for the new veterans hospital facility - we want veterans to have the best possible care they can. And apparently at this stage it doesn't look very promising," said Senator Alexander.
Harriman Mayor Chris Mason said according to the 2010 census, more than 100,000 veterans live in the area.He questions the VA's stats and said he can't believe it turned down the city's offer.
"The Harriman City Council kind of went out on a limb and offered a great building for a dollar. And it just bothers me that they never even came down to take a look at what we had to offer," said Mason.
The fight isn't over: Steve McBay is urging everyone to write to their congressmen , while Mason said he's hoping to fill a bus and rally in Washington, DC.
Mayor Mason said he's still hopeful he'll be able to convince officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs to come and tour the hospital. He said the building is in great shape and would only need minor repairs and said he wants the VA to check it out in person.