Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

November 10, 2013

Mobile clinic: Promise kept for area veterans

— — A new mobile health clinic that will be stationed in Mercer County in early 2014 to serve area veterans has arrived at the Beckley Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The Beckley VA is now beginning the process of finding necessary personnel to be hired, and is working out the details of the delivery of the mobile unit to Mercer County.

This is excellent news for veterans across southern West Virginia, and particularly those in Mercer and McDowell counties, who will benefit from the new mobile unit. U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., who was joined last week by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., in announcing the arrival of the mobile unit at the Beckley VA Center, says it is his hope that the details can be finalized quickly so that veterans in Mercer and surrounding counties can begin taking advantage of the health services provided by the mobile unit without delay. We agree. It is important for the mobile unit to arrive — and remain stationed in Mercer County — on time and as originally planned.

Rahall says the opening of the new tele-health facility planned for the existing Vet Center in Princeton has fallen behind schedule, which he admits is a concern. But, he is encouraged by reports from VA officials that efforts are being made to get the project back on schedule and all of the necessary contracts signed. The tele-health center is now slated to open early next year.

It is important for both the mobile unit and the tele-health center to be up and running as quickly as possible.

“I appreciate VA officials for being responsive to the concerns of local veterans and their families.,” Rahall said. “The mobile clinic is a major first step toward increasing access to veterans’ care in Mercer County and the surrounding area and I hope that our veterans will make full use of these new services, which is the best way to demonstrate the need for future VA investments.”

“Our veterans deserve access to the best treatment and care that is available,” Manchin added last week. “This is truly a great day for the veterans of this region, and much of it is because of a very special veteran, Al Hancock. After 17 years of working to make this idea a reality, the retired Air Force veteran who served two tours in Vietnam can finally see this idea turn into a reality for the veterans of Mercer County. I thank Al, the VA, the Beckley VA center and all those who have worked to bring this much needed health care access to Mercer County.”

“When veterans need primary and mental health care services, they shouldn’t face barriers like having to travel more than an hour to receive the care they earned and deserve,” Rockefeller, who is the longest serving member and former chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, added. “I want to express my appreciation to the VA, the Beckley VA Medical Center, and our local heroes, for their tireless work to bring this mobile clinic to Mercer County. Starting next year, and for years to come, the clinic will give our veterans access to critical health care services.”

The mobile health clinic will be an extension of the Beckley VA Medical Center. The fully self-contained mobile center includes two exam rooms, a waiting area and a restroom. Electronic records will be maintained through the use of satellite technology. All three lawmakers say the facility will remain in Mercer County as long as it is utilized by area veterans.

We are glad to hear that the mobile unit has now arrived at the Beckley VA, and we look forward to seeing the clinic stationed in Mercer County early next year. It is good to see that the promise made to area veterans is being kept — even if the tele-health center has fallen behind schedule.

We applaud Rahall, Manchin and Rockefeller — and Al Hancock in particular — for helping make these long requested facilities a reality for veterans across our region.

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