April 15, 2008 – After closing without notice last December, Hayward’s VA clinic re-opened just two months ago. Vanessa Feltes reports on how things look since the re-open.
“Words going out to the veterans, hey get signed up for the VA health care, look into it, it’s a great program, use it!” Sawyer County Veterans Service Officer Ray Boeckman says “if you build it, they will come”… more like.. if you re-open…more will come. The only problem is the clinic was reduced from four to two days a week causing an even fuller schedule than before. “We’ve been signing people up, several a week. We still get calls when’s that clinic going to open. Well, it is open.” Boeckman says they are hoping the rising numbers will allow for more hours.
Right now the clinic is open 8am to 4:30 Tuesdays and Thursdays. They are booked all the way through. “There are 1148 veterans using the VA medical system through the Minneapolis region here. That would be Hayward, Rice Lake, Chippewa Falls, Minneapolis, as well as the Twin Ports clinic up in Superior.”
Boeckman says Rice Lake’s clinic opened when Hayward closed, and now they are trying to get veterans to come back home. “That’s what we are encouraging the veterans to do. It is open. The VA is determined and committed to keeping it open. It’s in the veteran’s best interest to stay in their backyard and use the VA.”