For more than a year, the Veterans Administration has been researching what should be included in a new clinic that would replace the one located now on Belmont Avenue.
The Belmont Avenue clinic opened 25 years ago and according to veteran Carl Nunziato, it gets 50,000 visits a year.
The clinic initially covered only 5,000 square-feet but is nearly four times that size now.
The need for an improved facility even caught the attention of President Trump who promised a new clinic when he spoke in the Valley a year ago, but what should be included there?
A group of local veterans, including Nunziato, sat down with 27 First News senior reporter Gerry Ricciutti and told him what they would like to see. First, new, specialized care so veterans don’t have to travel to other cities.
“I drive 60 miles – 120 miles up there (Cleveland) when we can have that – a clinic similar to that planned here in the community for the veterans,” said Delmas Stubbs, veteran. “This is the time that veterans need to come out. Voice their concerns. Let us know what they think,”
Another key concern is mental health. Veterans want to see more services offered for that, especially for those returning from southwest Asia suffering from post-traumatic stress or drug addiction.
A frequent complaint about the clinic is the lack of available staff, which usually leads to short patient visits.
“It is difficult, first of all, to talk about your issues. The, you’re against a time clock. You can’t get the proper treatment that you need,” said Susan Krawchyk, veteran.
Some of the veteran’s requests are more subtle, such as a more private entrance for women or those with mental health problems.
“There are a lot of veterans that won’t go there for treatment because of the stigma that is attached to them. They don’t want that. They already have issues. They don’t need added pressure going into that back door,” Krawchyk said.