After more than five years of efforts to restore Island medical care for Vineyard veterans, good news came this week: A new contract for services is expected by the end of February.

At a Monday meeting between Cong. William Keating and veterans at the Vineyard Haven American Legion, district congressional representative Lance Lambros said the last contracts between the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and the Veterans Administration should be signed by Jan. 23. After this time, Mr. Lambros said, there has to be an opportunity for others to bid for the contract, he said, though “we know nobody else is going to bid on it but the hospital.

“We should have this wrapped up by the end of February.”

Almost six years ago, a contract between the Vineyard hospital and the VA to provide health care to Island veterans ran out. Some of the more than 300 veterans on the Island started receiving steep bills, and others had to journey to Providence, R.I., to receive basic health care.

“We’re pretty happy to say that by working with them over the past six or seven months, under the congressman’s guidance, we’ve put pressure on them to really get this done and I think that we’re very close. We aren’t finished, it’s not a done deal, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been,” said Mr. Lambros, who added he’s been attending meetings at the Providence VA on behalf of Island veterans.

Dukes County manager Russell Smith said bureaucracy at the VA contributed to the delay. “They don’t usually work with singular hospitals. It’s not their normal mode of operation,” he said. “I always have to say that we are not asking for any special treatment, any special dispensation. What we are looking for is for the services that can be provided here on the Island already, today. To avail ourselves of those services.”

Veterans in attendance expressed frustration about the confusing lapse of service and having to navigate medical bills and long trips off-Island to get health care.

“It is embarassing in this country that we ask people to serve, and yet afterwards, we sort of maybe take it for granted,” said state Sen. Dan Wolf, who attended the meeting with state Rep. Tim Madden.

Mr. Keating said, “I think we can say confidently [the issue] is going to be resolved.”