The U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affair is urging Iowa soldiers returning from Afghanistan to use their local V.A. health facility when they need care.

Secretary Eric K. Shinseki says veterans in their 20’s and 30’s think the local V.A. is a place for old soldiers, but Shinseki says the agency has made changes to meet the needs of the current generation. 

“We have an interest in a long-term association with a veteran,” Shinseki says, “and we think we provide that best by having that veteran be part of our system.”

Shinseki says one way the agency has changed is by adding outpatient clinics across the country.

“Seven-hundred-89 outpatient clinics that are provided for them in the communities they live in — that’s what’s different,” he says. “Instead of saying, ‘Come to us,’ this system has provided healthcare delivery to where they live.” 

The V.A. has opened 11 outpatient clinics in Iowa as part of that expansion. Shinseki was in Iowa earlier today. He spoke with reporters before holding a private roundtable discussion with in Indianola.

Shinseki served two combat tours in Vietnam and was wounded, losing part of his foot. He rose through the ranks to become the Army’s Chief of Staff before retiring in 2003.