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Help serve those who've served

Petition could bring medical services to area veterans

Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 11:29 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 12:35 p.m. CDT

Union County Veterans Affairs (VA) is asking veterans, their friends and family and community members to sign a petition by June 30 to bring VA medical services to southwest Iowa.

As of 2012, the United States census said more than 6,008 veterans live within the counties the proposed VA clinic could serve. Currently, less than half are enrolled.

Blaize Reha, Union County Veterans Affairs director, said many veterans in the area are foregoing entitled medical benefits because it simply isn’t convenient. Currently, veterans seeking medical services must travel to Des Moines or Omaha.

“If we had VA services down here, veterans would enroll,” Reha said. “We are trying to make the accessibility to VA services easier for them. They don’t want to be hindered having to drive 80 miles away.”

Having VA medical services offered out of Des Moines and Omaha are particularly a disservice to older or disabled veterans who require a driver to their appointments and to veterans who have to take hours of vacation time from their current job for short, routine appointments like checkups and blood work.

WWII Veteran Amos Hodson, 92, of Creston said he has never enrolled in medical services through the VA because its difficult to get to Des Moines.

“Well, it’s a long ways away,” Hodson said. “It’s an hour and 15 minutes to get there and an hour and 15 minutes to get back.”

Hodson was asked if he would enroll in VA medical services if they were offered closer to home.

“Yes, I probably would,” Hodson said.

Proposed VA clinic

The clinic would serve veterans in Union, Ringgold, Taylor, Adams, Adair, southwest Madison, west Clarke and northwest Decatur counties, and three northern counties in Missouri.

Reha said the services the VA are trying to bring to southwest Iowa are “everything you’d normally get from your doctor” — routine checkups and specialty services such as mental health, audiology and dental.

The location has not been determined, but should a VA medical clinic be approved for southwest Iowa, Reha said a location would be chosen by the VA.

Call to action

Reha said its his mission to get veterans enrolled in the medical services they are entitled to. But, to do this, he needs the help of the community.

Reha said a petition requesting VA medical services for southwest Iowa has been posted online and anyone can sign — veterans and the people who support them.

To sign the online petition, go to www.unioncountyiowa.org and click on Veterans Affairs in the menu on the left hand side of the screen. Alternatively, a paper petition can be signed in person at Union County Veterans Affairs office, 300 North Pine St., in the lower level of the courthouse.

A paper petition is also available at the VA offices in the aforementioned counties.

For more information, contact Union County Veterans Affairs at (641) 782-1723 or unioncova@yahoo.com.

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