12/09/08 — Goldsboro will get one of 31 new veterans clinics

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Goldsboro will get one of 31 new veterans clinics

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 9, 2008 1:46 PM

For many local veterans, medical care comes with long drives to Veterans Affairs hospitals in Durham and Fayetteville.

But thanks to a plan announced by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James Peake Friday, there will soon be a much closer alternative.

Goldsboro is getting its own VA clinic.

Peake said more than 31 new outpatient clinics would be constructed across 16 states by 2010.

"These new clinics will bring VA's top-notch care closer to the veterans who have earned it," he said in a written statement.

Some of the community-based outpatient clinics will become operational in 2009.

Goldsboro's is scheduled to open the following year.

Sen. Richard Burr applauded the Department of Veterans Affairs for including the Goldsboro facility and one in the Edenton-Elizabeth City area in its plan.

"Giving our veterans ex-panded access to world-class health care is one of our most important responsibilities," he said. "As more and more veterans move to North Carolina and call it home, we have a growing need for clinics like the two announced this week."

Veterans Affairs currently operates four hospitals, 10 community-based outpatient clinics and five rehabilitation counseling centers across North Carolina -- 153 hospitals and 750 clinics nationwide -- and operates the largest integrated health care system in the country.

Its budget for this year, more than $41 billion, will provide health care to roughly 5.8 million people.

Local veterans celebrated the news Monday.

Military Order of the Purple Heart and Veterans of Foreign Wars commander Mike Burris called it "great."

"Now we don't have to drive to Fayetteville all the time," he said. "It wears (veterans) out. It really takes a toll on them."

Currently, many veterans' appointments are grouped together so volunteers who drive them only have to sacrifice one day at a time.

And that means those who go in for treatment often spend the whole day at the hospital, Burris said.

"This is going to save them a tremendous amount of time," he said. "It's great. It's just great news."

Retired Marine Bill Carr agrees.

"That's the best news I have heard all year," he said. It's wonderful. What a great day for all our veterans."

No details regarding the location of the Goldsboro facility have been announced to date.