BURLINGTON, December 2 - Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a member of the Senate veterans committee, announced today that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will open a health clinic in Brattleboro.
The clinic will provide veterans in southern Vermont and New Hampshire, and northern Massachusetts, greater access to primary health care without having to travel long distances to VA hospitals.
"We desperately need this veterans' health clinic in southeastern Vermont," Sanders said. "This clinic will bring health care closer to our veterans so they don't need to travel all the way to White River to get the care they deserve.
"If men and women put their lives on the line in defense of this nation, promises made to them must be kept," the senator added.
Sanders, joined by Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch, first wrote to New England VA officials last February requesting the establishment of a clinic in the Brattleboro area.
Sanders also raised the issue directly with Secretary James Peake when he visited Vermont this summer at Sanders' invitation.
Peake notified Sanders that the new Community Based Outpatient Clinic soon will be formally approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The clinics provide access for veterans to primary care physicians, laboratory tests, medications, mental health services, and preventative services such as flu shots.
Many Brattleboro area veterans have long called for a clinic in the southern part of the state. Veterans living in nearby Keene, New Hampshire also will benefit.
Community clinics are part of a national effort to make the VA health care system more efficient and put a greater emphasis on primary care. The clinics are chosen based on an analysis of the distance to other health care services, accessibility, and relationships to other veterans' services.