Selma Veterans Administration clinic nears opening

Published 12:43 am Saturday, August 15, 2009

Early next month military veterans from across the region will have an option to receive medical care with the opening of a Veterans Administration outpatient clinic in Selma, one of 13 such clinics operated by the VA in the state.

More than 200 local veterans signed up to be serviced by the new clinic during a registration period in July, and a ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 3.

Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs Public Information Office Lt. Col. Bob Horton talked about the clinic and many other veterans’ issues Thursday night during American Legion Post 20s monthly meeting.

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“The clinic will actually start seeing veterans Aug. 17,” he said. “And we’ll also open up registration again that that time.”

Horton mentioned the paperwork needed to register to use the clinic was extensive, but that the VA particularly needed a veteran’s discharge document as well as medical records and other personal information.

A letter sent to Post 20s Commander, Byrd Looper, by Department of Veteran’s Affairs Director Alan Tyler gave details about the clinic, which will be located at 206 Vaughn Memorial Drive and operate from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

“The clinic will be staffed by VA employees . . . ensuring the same continuum of care the medical center offers to veterans who use the main VA facility in Tuscaloosa,” Tyler said in the letter.

He went on to say that the Tuscaloosa VA had been awarded a total of $1.4 million to establish a home-based primary care team and a mental health outreach team, both operating from the Selma clinic. The teams would visit the homes of veterans who were unable to travel to the clinic for care and treatment.

Other topics Horton spoke to veterans about during the meeting included the planned construction of a new veteran’s home in Pell City at a cost of $40 million, with 65 percent of the funding coming from the federal government. Eligible veterans can currently receive long-term care at one of Alabama’s three veterans homes in Alexander City, Bay Minette or Huntsville.

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs is also establishing the first state operated veterans cemetery in Spanish Fort.

“It will cost $8 million to construct and we’re getting 100 percent of the funds in 2010 from the federal government,” Horton said. “Veterans, their spouses and their children can be buried there at no cost to them.”

This year’s theme for the Alabama National Fair in Montgomery will be “Welcome Home, Vietnam Veterans.” The theme is something Horton, whose father served three tours in Vietnam, said is needed as veterans of the war in Vietnam didn’t receive much of a homecoming. The fair will be held Oct. 9 at Garrett Coliseum and admission is free to all veterans.