WASHINGTON, June 22 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday will participate in a grand opening for a new Brattleboro clinic serving the health care needs of veterans from a three-state region.
Veterans who live in southern Vermont and parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts had been forced to drive an hour or more to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair medical center at White River Junction for basic health care. The VA expects 1,000 to 1,500 veterans to use the new Brattleboro clinic.
A member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Sanders will attend the 1 p.m. grand opening of the new Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Brattleboro. “This new clinic and others like it across Vermont provide timely access to quality health care closer to where veterans actually live,” he said.
Sanders also noted that about 1,500 members of the Vermont National Guard currently are engaged in the largest deployment of soldiers from the state since World War II. "We must ensure our veterans have access to convenient, quality health care when they return to Vermont," the senator said.
The clinics operate as satellites of the VA medical center in White River Junction. "We are extremely pleased to be able to serve the veterans in the Brattleboro area. It's something that we looked forward to for the last two years," said Andrew LaCasse, spokesman for the Veterans Affairs Department. "Once eligibility level has been determined, basic services are available free of charge or, in certain circumstances, with a nominal surcharge," he said.
In addition to the new Brattleboro facility, the VA also operates clinics in Bennington, Colchester, and Rutland. The Colchester facility is the busiest outpatient clinic in Vermont. Last year, the site had 17,761 patient visits, according to the VA. The Bennington clinic, which was upgraded last year, had 10,850 visits. The Rutland facility logged 4,624 visits.
Another clinic in Littleton, N.H., serves veterans in parts of east-central Vermont. Sanders also is working with the VA to open another clinic in Orleans County, probably in the Newport area, to serve veterans living in the Northeast Kingdom.