Vets hope new clinic will ease access to care - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Vets hope new clinic will ease access to care

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The new clinic is scheduled to open in Fall 2015. The new clinic is scheduled to open in Fall 2015.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Iraq veteran Manual Hernandez said without his war injuries and post-traumatic stress, much of his specialized care requires a hefty road trip.

"It requires taking a day off work," he described, "having to wait 20, 40 minutes out in the cold for the shuttle to come pick you up."

The veteran has been struggling with getting his needs addressed by the VA, and he likes the idea of some services being available at a new clinic right in Huntsville. The trek to the VA hospital in Birmingham can be a hardship for vets and veterans' advocates alike.

"A traumatic brain injury, x-ray, anything like that, you have to go down to Birmingham," Hernandez said.

"That's a long drive. A lot of veterans, especially if they've been homeless or they don't make much money, they have to worry about the gas to get down there," said Nancy Eason.

Eason is a Vietnam and Desert Storm vet, and helps fellow veterans get care. Eason said there's nothing like having services close by. "If we can get this facility, with some x-rays and especially with a pharmacy that would be fantastic. A lot of our veterans have trouble getting their medications," Eason said.

Eason said it is a disappointment that the hospital in Birmingham will remain the closest inpatient facility. She remembers hopeful early speculation that that's what the Huntsville facility would be.

"I just can't see them building another clinic and not building a hospital, because that'll help a few people. It's not going to be an all-encompassing medical facility like we really need in this area," she said.

Eason said it is a disappointment that the hospital in Birmingham will remain the closest inpatient facility. She remembers hopeful early speculation that that's what the Huntsville facility would be.

"I just can't see them building another clinic and not building a hospital, because that'll help a few people. It's not going to be an all-encompassing medical facility like we really need in this area," she said.

Eason said having a pharmacy in the new clinic will be priceless. Veterans can get their prescriptions by mail, but she said problems or changes of address can suddenly make it impossible for them to receive urgently needed medications, and having a drug store they can walk to will make a world of difference.

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