The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is rolling out four new mobile health clinics outfitted to bring primary care and mental health services closer to veterans in 24 predominately rural counties, where patients must travel long distances to visit their nearest VA Medical Center or outpatient clinic.
Closest to home is one of these vans that will be serving areas in Colorado including Larimer, Jackson, Logan and Weld counties, as well as counties in Nebraska and Wyoming.
I see this as a first step in providing better care for rural veterans, who have been long missing on the VA’s radar.
Factors considered in the selection of the participating sites included a need for improved access in the area, and the degree to which clinics will expand services and collaborations with communities the clinics serve.
I believe veterans in Archuleta County travel about the greatest distance of any veterans in the communities in the Albuquerque VAMC system.
Things are improving: mileage rates are up, overnight accommodations are being provided for most of our veterans, and we have the DAV van now operating from Durango two days a week.
Each journey begins with but a single step. We’ve taken the first steps in improving VAHC for our veterans, but we still have a long way to go.
As many of your know, I have long advocated that VAHC eligible veterans over 65 and on Medicare should be allowed to see their Medicare provider locally, paid for by the VA. Drugs could be prescribed by local authorized physicians and sent to VAHC for filling by the VAHC mail order pharmacy program.
I believe this would actually save a great deal of money for the VAHC budget, and certainly make life much easier for aging veterans, some of whom have a difficult time traveling to a VAHC facility, often just for routine matters and prescription renewals.
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays — call Mike Dunaway at 247-2198 — and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays — call Harriet Mulnix (505) 793-1782.
Durango VA Clinic
The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 400 South Camino Del Rio, Suite G, next to Big 5 Sports. Phone number is 247-2214.
For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The office number is 731-3837, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.