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Op-Ed: Expanding The VA Outpatient Clinic In Hot Springs, Arkansas

June 05, 2017

All opinion articles are the opinion of the author and not necessarily of American Military News.

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Rumor has it that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for patients using the VA Outpatient Clinic in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Plans to expand the Clinic to include hearing care and eye care may come to fruition this year; ground-breaking on or before September 2017.

This expansion has become necessary due to the increase of VA patients using the Hot Springs Clinic. Based on this Veteran’s conversations with the Clinic Staff, approximately 5,500 and 6,000 patients are being seen by VA doctors at the clinic each month.

By expanding the health care services at the Hot Springs Clinic, the need for certain eligible patients to be approved for civilian health care through Veterans’ Choice Program (VCP) will be reduced considerably, along with the associated cost of travel reimbursement.

Care for eligible Veterans’ failing eye-sight and hearing loss is certainly a prime consideration in their health care, but shouldn’t consideration also be given for dental care? There are certainly a sufficient number of eligible Veterans to justify including at least one dentist (preferably two) in current plans for expansion.

There are probably a sufficient number of physically impaired Veterans who would be spared the pain endured by lengthy travel to Little Rock, Arkansas, in order to receive eye care, hearing care and dental care.

Case in point: this disabled Veteran’s disability involves injuries to the spine and the pain endured making many 120+ mile roundtrip appointments to the Little Rock Clinic is physically impossible and therefore would have to rely on civilian care under the VCP!

Before the final plans are approved, perhaps the VA should consider making space for dental care, as well.

It should perhaps be noted here that the wording used in the recently refined rules regarding eligibility for the VCP regarding the distance Veterans live from a VA health care facility should stipulate: “…the distance from a full-service VA Clinic,” vice, “..the distance from any VA Clinic.” It seems quite unfair to disqualify a Veteran for the VCP if he/she lives close to a VA Clinic that cannot perform services like eye care, hearing care and dental care.

Brooks Outland is a Korean and Vietnam war veteran. He volunteered to serve in Vietnam because he was keen to help the people of South Vietnam keep their freedom and their country from communist takeover by the North. After retiring, Brooks and his wife spent eight years volunteering aboard his old battleship, the USS Missouri (BB-63), before returning to the mainland in Arkansas in 2015.