Edinburg residents turned out in droves to march with veterans as they began their walk designed to highlight the need for improved health care for Valley veterans.

Their march began through town on Saturday morning. Later that day, a core group of about 35 made the 25-mile trek through the city’s outskirts, which ended in San Manuel at St. Anne’s Church.

Valley veterans’ organizations have argued bitterly that the trip to San Antonio can be grueling and time consuming for veterans suffering from ill health. Veterans groups say they are waiting for politicians in Washington to uphold their commitment, when they pledged their support during the 2008 primary season.

The nearest VA hospital is the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital in San Antonio.

“The thing is to remind people up in Washington like (John) Kerry, Hillary (Clinton), and Obama that we are waiting,” said Jose Maria Vasquez, commander of America’s Last Patrol. “They’re telling us we have to wait another five to 10 years. I don’t think so.”

Sen. Kerry and Hillary Clinton both promised their support for Sen. John Cornyn’s, R-TX, bill S. 1838. U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, also filed a similar bill H38 in the House.

The bill’s co-sponsors also included Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and then-Sen. Barack Obama,

The two bills directed the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to determine, and notify Congress, whether the needs of veterans for acute inpatient hospital care in 24 counties comprising deep South Texas would be met through a public-private venture, construction of a new full-service, 50-bed hospital with a 125-bed nursing home, or a sharing agreement with a military treatment facility. But Cornyn’s bill failed last fall.