Our View: Promise keepers

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By enlisting in the Armed Forces - and for many, volunteering to risk their lives in war - America's veterans pledged to protect their country. And for bravely and selflessly doing so, America in turn made the promise to care for those veterans if and when they returned home.

That promise wasn't always fulfilled for veterans living in Northwest Colorado.

Instead of the easy and convenient access to health care veterans deserve in light of their sacrifice, a lack of local options required them to make the six-hour roundtrip drive to the nearest option, the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Thankfully, these days are no more.

On Friday, community members, local veterans and VA officials from around the state attended a dedication ceremony, which signaled the opening of the new Craig Community VA Telehealth Clinic at 551 Tucker St.

Though not the fix-all health care option many veterans and officials sought, the new telehealth clinic is nonetheless a dramatic upgrade to the Grand Junction trip, and a step in the right direction for America in keeping its word and giving veterans their due and proper.

The clinic offers a range of on-site nursing care and a variety of medical services. It also will allow for patients to consult via video conference with physicians in Grand Junction.

The clinic would not have become the reality it is today without the exhaustive work put in by many local veterans, veterans' organizations, public officials and lawmakers, the editorial board contends. It took years to win the "uphill battle" of getting the clinic in Craig, and the road was littered with setbacks and frustration.

But the veterans, veterans' groups and lawmakers - the board specifically recognizes contributions from the brothers Salazar, U.S. Sen. Ken and U.S. Congressman John - kept churning until years of fits and starts materialized into Friday's opening.

The work and dedication these people put forth on behalf of the clinic - and by extension, the veterans it serves - demands the public's respect and thanks. The editorial board commends everyone on a job well done, a mission accomplished and a debt if not wholly, then at least partially, repaid.

We are proud of you all.

About the only measure of disappointment the board feels regarding the new clinic is the lengthy, monumental effort it took to make it a reality.

We sincerely hope, as our men and women once again find themselves embroiled in a wartime struggle, and lives are being lost and wounds sustained, that in the future, America keeps the promise it hasn't always lived up to.

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