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New VA Clinic Planned For Burlington

The number of community based clinics providing health care to Veterans continues to grow. 

The clinics complement the services provided by the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in White River Junction. 

The VA says the clinics are just one aspect of a significant shift in the approach to health care for veterans.

Senator Bernie Sanders chairs the Senate’s Veteran’s Affair Committee.  Sanders says there have been some issues when it comes to providing VA services to veterans, like a backlog in processing claims.  

But Sanders has singular praise for the level of health care at VA hospitals and clinics.  He cites the use of telemedicine and the VA’s embrace of holistic and preventative approaches as well as a new women’s clinic at White River VA.

“In recent years we have seen a significant improvement in VA health care throughout this country and certainly here in the state of Vermont," Sanders says.  "Right now the Veteran’s Administration is the largest integrated health care provider in the United States of America, treating some 6 million veterans every single year.”

Sanders says another area of improvement is the growth in the number of community-based outreach clinics.  There are five in the state, spread from Brattleboro to Newport. Later this year a new clinic will open in Burlington to relieve some of the demand being placed on one in nearby Colchester. 

Like the VA hospital, the clinics are employing a new primary care model.  In it, a clinician assigned to a veteran oversees all the care the VA provides, working with nurses, social workers, psychologists, physical therapists and others.

According to Deborah Amdur, the director of the White River Junction VA Medical Center, the model also attempts to dispel the stigma around mental health care.

“So a veteran who comes to primary care doesn’t have to go to a separate mental health clinic," Amdur explains. "They actually can see a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker right there as part of their primary care team.  We feel that this has made a dramatic difference in terms of the stigma that is sometimes associated with mental health care.”

Amdur says the White River VA sees 25,000 veterans annually from Vermont and western New Hampshire. 

While the number is growing, she says there are still veterans who don’t know they can use VA services.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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