Central Alabama Veterans’ Affairs is planning on expanding its services in the Wiregrass, making healthcare more accessible.
The Central Alabama Veterans’ Affairs system has set into motion a plan to open a new primary care clinic in Fort Rucker, while giving the contractor of the clinic in Dothan an opportunity to maintain the services performed there, in an attempt to better serve veterans all over.
Veteran Wendell Stepp said, "Now if they have to have an MRI, if they have to have more advanced primary care, they can come here for that primary care."
The VA had other possible locations for a new primary care clinic, but those options all involved costly construction. The facilities at Lyster at the Army Health Clinic will be easily renovated, as the area on the second floor hasn't been in use since 2005.
Dr. Robert W. Ratliff, the director of CAVHCS said, "They've got clinics available, but there's also renovations that needed to be done and who's going to pay for this? Who's going to pay for that; a lot of issues that we needed to work out."
Wilbur Sillivant, another local veteran said, "You have to leave Dothan at 5:30 then you have to drive 85 miles to Tuskeegee or Montgomery, then you have to drive back. We've got a lot of older veterans that don't need to be doing that."
Another large part of the plan is money; almost $3 million dollars will go into the project to renovate and refit the building at Lyster. Most of that will come straight from the Department of Defense and the VA Joint Incentives Program.
VA representatives and Colonel Kaminski, the commanding officer at Lyster, both said the process was a difficult one. And, veterans were there to thank them for their work to make healthcare easier.
The facility at Lyster will open around the start of the New Year. Officials think it will serve thousands of veterans in the region.