Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


February 18, 2014

A day of celebration: Mobile clinic open for veterans

— — After years of fighting for health care services closer to home, the big day is finally here for veterans across the region. The doors to the new mobile veterans clinic in Bluefield will be opened at 11 a.m. this morning. And although the first patients will be seen today, the ceremonial ribbon cutting is also a time of celebration for veterans and our community.

That’s why we would encourage veterans across the area to attend today’s celebration at the Herb Sims Youth Center on Stadium Drive in Bluefield. And the same goes for all concerned citizens. Please come out and show your support for our region’s veterans, who have fought a long and hard battle for this Mercer County-based mobile clinic.

And much of the credit today goes to local veterans advocate Al Hanock, who led a tireless 17-year fight for a Mercer County-based veterans clinic. And while the mobile clinic may not be the actual brick and mortar facility that Hancock had fought for, it is still a victory — and a hard fought one.

We also applaud U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., as well as U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., as well as the administration of the Beckley VA Hospital, for hearing the plea of area veterans and working to make the mobile clinic a reality.

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. The clinic will also have one doctor, one RN, a secretary and a driver on staff.

The mobile clinic will remain for now at the Stadium Drive location in Bluefield because the site is well equipped with all of the needed amenities. It is also centrally located for veterans across the region. However, it could be moved to other locations across Mercer County in the future as suitable sites are found.

“As long as we fill it up — it will remain there,” Debbie Voloski, a public affairs officer with the Beckley Veterans Administration Hospital, said last week. “We sent out letters and had a wonderful response from the veterans. We’ve already heard from in excess of 500.”

Keeping the clinic in Mercer County is now the challenge faced by area veterans. Hancock says hundreds of veterans across the region will now have to utilize the mobile clinic on a regular basis in order for it to remain here.

We, too, strongly encourage all veterans across the region to make use of this new facility. It’s a simple matter now of use it or lose it. And area veterans have fought far too long and hard for this facility to risk losing it.

But today is a time of celebration. And that’s why we would like to see as many veterans and concerned citizens as possible attend the 11 a.m. gathering. Let’s show our support for our veterans, and for this new mobile clinic.

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