New physician at Durango VA Clinic

A reminder to all my veterans: I will be out of the office all this week through next Wednesday to attend to some medical needs and take a little vacation.

Also, the correct new phone number for the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office is 264-4013. It was erroneously reported previously as 264-2013 (my mistake).

The Durango VA Clinic has a new doctor, by the name of John Best, M.D. He is a medical doctor, not a Physician’s Assistant. This is certainly welcome news to all the veterans in this area who have been patiently waiting for long-delayed medical appointments. Prior to Dr. Best arriving this week, veterans were being scheduled for appointment with Dr. Ono months in advance. I believe that backlog will be shortened soon with the two full-time doctors at the clinic.

Speaking of the Durango Clinic, it will be moving sometime in May, I believe, to a new, larger location near the old Mercy Medical Center in Durango. Watch for more information on this move in the near future.

I keep hearing that veterans from Archuleta County are being referred to Durango veteran services by the Durango Clinic staff. I believe that the staff at the clinic may have not noticed where the patient was from and just made routine referrals to local veteran services. I know it can be confusing when a VA clinic staff person tells you to go to a veteran service organization in Durango when you should be referred to Archuleta County VSO services.

I strongly urge all Archuleta County veterans to come to this office, regardless of where they may have been referred to. I can handle all of your claims and benefit applications from here. I have spoken to LaPlata County VSO Richard Schleeter and he says he refers Archuleta County veterans back to this office. Another veteran’s organization assistant is Charlie Parnell. Charlie has done wonderful things in support of many veterans, but also refers our local veterans back to this office.

I’ve even heard of our local veterans being referred by the Albuquerque VAMC to service organizations in Albuquerque, not realizing or paying attention to the fact the veteran patient is from here. In some cases, veterans from here are being asked to sign VA Power Of Attorneys (POA) with another service organization in the middle of a claim or benefit case. This will take your case or benefit application out of my hands if you sign a POA with another service organization. You can only have one POA at a time representing you.

If you are a resident of Archuleta County and have a claim or benefit application, or questions about any veteran’s benefits, please see me at this VSO Office. I will give you the best personal assistance possible, and you won’t have to travel any distance for it.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC Van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays — call Mike Dunaway 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.

Further information

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. The office number is 731-3837, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 to 4, Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.