Our View: Vets deserve more

Health care for veterans has been a hot topic lately -- it brought U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and his brother, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, to Craig on Friday.

Current--ly, veterans have to drive to Grand Junction to receive free or discounted medical care, which is hassle for a simple check-up or blood test.

We think that's absurd.

Veterans should have access to care close to home. They sacrificed their lives for ours. Providing a reasonable benefit such as convenient health care is, quite simply, an appropriate way of saying thanks.

Veterans are busy now enrolling more veterans in the program to prove Moffat County has a need for a Veterans Affairs facility, called a community-based outpatient clinic.

We recognize veterans' health care as a critical point of concern to our community. And we appreciate the people of this community and the Salazars, who are making this issue a priority.

But we're not sure an outpatient clinic is the best solution to the problem.

A clinic may not provide the quality of care that a hospital could. A hospital is equipped to handle a variety of routine tests as well as health emergencies.

In coming years, The Memorial Hospital will expand to a new $21 million facility and would have the capacity to provide even more services to veterans.

It will be expensive to open and keep a veterans clinic operating. Why duplicate health care providers in a small town?

We have a hospital seeking trust and respect from our community. They offer the services that an outpatient clinic would need to provide.

Veterans could receive the medical services they need -- physical exams, X-rays, blood tests and biopsies. The Memorial Hospital could provide care at the free or discounted rates promised to veterans through a deal with Veterans Affairs.

If Veterans Affairs could collaborate with TMH, the organizations could kill two birds with one stone by providing the much-needed care to the veterans of Northwest Colorado while improving the hospital's community relations.

Opening an outpatient clinic would be costly, and likely, not necessary.

We hope Veterans Affairs looks at long-term solutions instead of simply building a facility from the ground up.

We have a hospital here that can provide the veterans of this community not only what they need but what they deserve.

Let's use it.

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