Iowa will get another clinic to serve the needs of military veterans. Patrick Palmersheim is Executive Director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs and says the new facility will open in Spirit Lake. He says this site was selected before and ready to build when it got put on hold because of budget issues. He says he’s fighting to get five to seven more clinics, too, but “every time we get one more, that’s …more than what we had.”
Palmersheim says several other clinic plans have been approved and then been put on hold, so there could be more coming in the future when funding’s available. The V.A.’s goal is to have a medical facility within fifty to 75 miles of everyone, but Palmersheim says it’s a challenge because the veteran population’s spread thinly in rural areas.
Soldiers returning from the war in Iraq are beginning to increase the number of vets eligible for V.A. medical care. They’re coming in at a record rate, partly because the V.A.’s staging an outreach program to contact every returning vet and get them signed up for medical benefits.
The states are delegated money according to how many vets they have signed up for medical benefits, so he says, “We need every veteran in the state of Iowa signed up.” Even though some will be ineligible for aid because of income guidelines, he says signing up will get them into the system and help the state get all possible funding to run VA hospitals, clinics and outpatient centers here.