More health care options for E. TN veterans

Roane County (WVLT) -- Thousands of East Tennessee veterans won't have to go very far for their health care soon.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is opening 14 new veterans clinics in seven states, and Tennessee is getting six of them.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford has more from Roane county, one of the East Tennessee regions that made the cut

Roane, Campbell and Sevier counties will all be opening veterans clinics some time this year.

Veterans in those surrounding counties will also be able to take advantage of the outpatient health care visits without struggling to get there.

"It was just a job we had to do, something we were trained to do," Charlie Parker served in World War II as a U.S. Navy man in 1942.

"We're proud of it, very proud."

The 86-year old Roane County Veteran has been fighting for a VA Clinic in his community for more than ten years, "When we go to Nashville, its an all day trip up there. We leave here in the morning before daylight, get back after dark."

Parker, along with thousands of other Roane County vets will soon be able to make the short drive to the Roane County Health Center between Harriman and Rockwood where the new VA Clinic will be located.

Navy Veteran Chris Windebank says, "I think that's a very good idea cause I know quite a few veterans around here, like myself. I've had to go all the way to Johnson City to get work done."

Roane County Mayor Mike Farmer says, "You can never repay these folks, these men and women who have risked their lives to keep us safe."

Mayor Farmer says this is a very small way of giving back to our veterans, "We've all been fighting for this for so long. Everything just came together at the right time, funding,, a desire to have accessibility."

Right now the closest VA Clinic is more than 40 miles away in Knoxville.

Mayor Farmer says, "It's very difficult to get into."

Windebank says, "A lot of veterans are not able to drive, so they have to depend, so it'll relieve a lot of people."

Veterans agree this is a big step to bringing health care closer to home...

Parker says, "They've served their time and they need help now and we should be able to give it to them."

Mayor Farmer tells us an opening date for the clinic is not set yet, but he wants to make sure it opens as soon as possible.

You can read more about the other VA clinics about to open by clicking on the link below.

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