BRATTLEBORO, Vt., June 26 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today took part in the grand opening for a new Brattleboro clinic serving the health care needs of veterans from a three-state region.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs expects that as many as 1,500 veterans who live in southern Vermont and parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts will take advantage of the new clinic instead of driving an hour or more to the VA medical center at White River Junction.
A member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Sanders said the Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), like three others arlready operatinng in Vermont, will provide timely access to quality health care closer to where veterans live.
Sanders also noted that the clinics will serve the medical needs of Vermont National Guard members when they come home from Afghanistan. "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 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.