The fight for a VA hospital in Roane County

By: John Treanor
By: John Treanor

HARRIMAN, Tenn. (WVLT) --- Tommy True and Steve McBay stare at the four story building standing in front of them with fixed eyes.

Their feet are planted on the corner of the street, their minds are somewhere else completely.

The sounds of an ambulance racing to the emergency room finally breaks their concentration.

Dozens of people walk in and out of the Harriman Hospital now but in a year it will be starkly different.

In 2013 the building will be empty, management moving to a brand new hospital.

McBay and True have a plan.

Why not invite the VA into the city, and turn what would be completely vacant building into a place where veterans can get much needed health care.

Something that, right now, is a two and a half hour drive.

Right now a trip to the hospital means 50,000 soldiers have to head to Johnson City or Murfreesboro.

"We've got some veterans here in the county that just dont even try anymore," True a Veteran of the US Air Force told me, "it's just too tough on them."

The Mayor of Harriman is offering the building to the Veterans for a buck a day.

"We've got a lot of veterans and its an ever growing number." Mayor Chris Mason said, "we need to take care of our veterans and one located here between Johnson City and Murfreeseboro just makes a lot of sense."

To rally support for the hospital idea the Vets are throwing an informational meeting on April 7th, at the American Legion on Morgan Avenue at 10am.


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