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Moves To Improve War Veterans Health Taken

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in response to numerous complaints over local health care for veterans, is planning to set up an outpatient clinic in Evansville city that would open by 2011.

A newspaper ad from the VA is seeking about 87,000 square feet that must be available for occupancy by March 2011.

Local veterans have complained for nearly two years about the quality of health care at an existing clinic, saying it needs more doctors, more space, better staff morale and have dismantled emergency care.

Robert Morrel, director of a seven-facility veterans health network based at the Marion, Ill., Veterans Hospital, met in January with about 100 local veterans to discuss their concerns. VA officials announced in March that money for a new outpatient clinic was included in the 2007 federal budget.

In addition, the House Veterans' Affairs Committee on Tuesday by voice vote approved six veterans' health care bills that would expand free care for war veterans, establish brain injury research centers and make chiropractic care more accessible, among other things. Under one bill, free health care for returning troops would be expanded from two to five years. The bill, which is geared toward veterans from the Persian Gulf War through present and future conflicts, aims to help those veterans who have health problems that appear years after they have completed military service.

The committee by voice vote approved a substitute amendment to the legislation that would expand health care available retroactively to all veterans who meet the bill's criteria, rather than only those veterans discharged after its enactment. No funding estimates were included with the measure.


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