SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Two new veterans clinics are scheduled to come to the Ozarks, with one of them only a couple months from opening its doors.
Springfield veterans are accustomed to the drive to the Veterans Administration clinic in Mt. Vernon for basic health care, and the much longer drive to the VA Hospital in Fayetteville. So news of a large clinic coming to Springfield is welcome.
"We have World War II veterans here at this post who now have to drive the 2 ½ hours, sometimes inclement weather to have things done at Fayetville," said American Legion Post 639 commander Bill Roark.
The VA says the new Springfield clinic will be 68,000 square feet with a wide array of services: primary care, mental health, prosthetics, physical therapy, social work services, veterans service organizations, veterans benefits, radiology, audiology, pathology, eye clinic, pharmacy, dental, endoscopy, sleep lab, pulmonary function and nutrition counseling.
"It's just good news. I just wish that the one in Springfield was going to get here sooner," said U.S. Army veteran Jack Hembree.
Roark isn't cheering just yet, after nearly 10 years of fighting for a VA hospital or clinic in Springfield.
"I know how the military, I know how politics, I know how VA has operated in the past, and the old saying, I'll believe it when I see it," said Roark.
A location has not yet been chosen for the Springfield clinic, but in Marshfield, the clinic is right off Interstate 44 at 1240 Banning St. The Marshfield clinic construction is well underway, and it's set to open at the end of November.
The Marshfield clinic, a branch of the VA Hospital in Columbia, is about 7,000 square feet and will offer primary care and basic mental health.
"They don't have to travel. That's the really key thing here, is the travel is going to be reduced," said Hembree.
Veterans are looking forward to better access to VA healthcare. They just hope the news isn't too good to be true.
"I understand there's going to be a nice array of services that will be available with this new clinic or hospital, but I'm really concerned because of sequestration and if it really will happen in 2015," said Roark.
A VA spokesperson in Fayetteville says the Springfield clinic is scheduled to open sometime in 2015, and a location has not been chosen.