Congressman announces step to rename Craig VA clinic after local hero
September 28, 2010
For more than a year, a Craig resident has worked to honor the memory and military service of a local fallen hero.
Larry Neu, a Vietnam veteran and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 quartermaster, has spearheaded several projects in honor of Major William E. Adams, a Medal of Honor recipient and former Craig resident.
During a Saturday stop in Craig, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., announced he has taken another step in hopes of helping Neu in his mission.
Salazar announced he has introduced a federal resolution to rename the Craig VA Telehealth Outreach Clinic after Maj. Adams.
Adams, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, was killed in action in 1971 while trying to evacuate wounded soldiers from a hostile area in the Kontum Province of Vietnam.
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He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor — the highest honor a veteran can receive after risking his or her life in combat.
Salazar's resolution was introduced July 20 to the U.S. House of Representatives and was assigned to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
If passed, the resolution would rename the VA clinic the "Major William Edward Adams Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic."
Neu said he was encouraged by Salazar's actions concerning Maj. Adams and the VA Clinic.
"It is something that I have worked for a long time to get this hero the proper recognition he deserves in this community," he said.
In a news release, Salazar said the resolution has the support of all U.S. House Representatives from Col-
orado, and he is working to "get it passed as soon as possible."
The clinic is currently in the process of moving to a new location inside of The Memorial Hospital's former building, said April Branstetter, a nurse at the clinic.
Branstetter said the clinic plans move from its current location at 551 Tucker St., to the new space in late October.
The new location is larger and will have more rooms, she said. The VA clinic has occupied its current space for about three years. Salazar was instrumental in bringing a VA clinic to Craig, Neu said.
In the release, Salazar said the VA clinic has been more successful than "any of us could have imagined."
"Bureaucrats at the VA in Washington, D.C., doubted me that there was a sufficient need to justify putting a clinic in Craig," Salazar said in the release. "We've shown them. The VA tells me that we are on track to have over 1,700 visits this year, saving our local veterans hundreds of hours of travel time to Denver and Grand Junction, and thousands of dollars in travel costs."
Neu said Salazar toured the new location of the VA clinic Saturday with members of the VFW, American Legion Post 62 and clinic staff.
The clinic's possible new name is one of several projects Neu has spearheaded, with local help, to honor Maj. Adams.
"He never received the proper recognition in his own community," Neu said.
In May, the state legislature passed a resolution introduced by state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, to rename the portion of Colorado Highway 13 that runs through Moffat County the "Maj. William Adams Medal of Honor Highway."
Neu said four signs were placed along the highway about three weeks ago to inform travelers of the highway's new designation. Two were placed along the highway at the north and south ends of Craig, and two at the borders of Wyoming and Rio Blanco County, he said.
Local residents and the Colorado Department of Transportation supported the project, Neu said.
"I know a lot of people are seeing them," he said of the signs. "They are beautiful, big blue signs."