By Mike Brownlee, Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 10:52 AM CST
The Veterans Affairs Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System will
hold two events in southwest Iowa communities later this month.
The VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Shenandoah will observe
its one-year anniversary on March 23, while in Carson, the VA's
outreach initiative will provide information and counseling about VA
and other veteran-related benefits.
Shenandoah's clinic, 512 S. Fremont St., opened in February 2009 and
was the third of four clinics the VA opened or expanded in Nebraska
and western Iowa over the last two years.
"The veterans in western Iowa were very proactive in saying they
wanted and needed a clinic down there," said Will Ackerman, public
affairs officer for VA Nebraska-Western Iowa. "We're very excited to
have been able to bring one to them."
One of the major goals of the rural clinics like the one in
Shenandoah, Ackerman said, is to reduce the travel necessary to
receive care. Before the Shenandoah clinic, veterans in the area were
forced to drive to Omaha or Lincoln, Neb.
"It's kind of like family practice. It's in your community, you get to
know the provider and they get to know you," Ackerman said. "It's more
a community minded environment than you'd have if you went to a big
city healthcare center."
The Shenandoah clinic serves about 950 veterans, according to Ackerman.
An open house will be held on March 23 from 1 until 3 p.m. at the
facility. Veterans who want to learn more about the services offered
at the clinic and by the VA, along with those who want to check
eligibility, are encouraged to attend the event.
The Shenandoah clinic also has added a part-time mental health and
social worker position, an important post with two wars being waged
right now, Ackerman said.
At the Carson Community Center, 316 S. Commercial St., area veterans
will have officials at their disposal on March 26 and 27 to learn
about eligibility rules and benefits offered by the VA.
"The rules have changed over the last 25 to 30 years," Ackerman said.
"Some of these (older) veterans who weren't eligible before are now
eligible. This is a chance to go out there and help people enroll for
The program runs from noon to 8 p.m. on March 26 and 8 a.m. to 11:30
a.m. on March 27.
Officials from the state of Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs,
veteran service agencies, county veteran service officers and military
transition advisors will also be present.
"The VA health care system today is recognized as one of the best in
the country," Ackerman said. "The vets have served honorably, and
they've earned their benefits. Our sole mission is to serve veterans
who have served us."