‘Not Your Grandfather's’ VA Clinic Set To Open in Bloomington
The new Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic that will open in Bloomington next month is emphasizing mental health services in addition to primary care and other medical services to veterans.
Melissa Spady is a health system specialist and acting public affairs officer for the Danville-based VA Illiana Health Care System. Spady said there's often a generational gap in which some older veterans might not think they need treatment or don't know where to turn.
“We are a different VA than perhaps what your grandfather went to years ago and to really get that message out to all of our veterans both younger veterans as well as older veterans is so important,” Spady said.
Spady acknowledged she has encountered resistance from older veterans who are conditioned to be self-reliant. She has attended outreach events to encourage veterans to take advantage of services available to them.
“We will have Vietnam veterans come to us and they will tell us, ‘I wish I would have signed up for this years ago and I’m so happy with the care… I’m going to tell my nieces, my nephews, my grandchildren that are now in the service that they need to come here,'" said Spady. “A lot of these veterans we have saved their lives and they have completely turned their lives around utilizing those services.”
Spady said there are about 22,000 veterans in McLean County and nearby counties who have had to travel to Peoria, Springfield and beyond to use health benefits at a VA facility. Veterans are, however, able to use their health benefits at non VA providers.
“This area within McLean County and the surrounding counties, it’s enriched with veterans, especially those younger veterans as well, those that attend the local colleges and universities,” Spady said. “So it made perfect sense for us to put this clinic in the Bloomington-Normal area.”
The clinic at 207 Hamilton Road in Bloomington is planning an open house on Thursday, Nov. 7 from 3-4 p.m. Spady said the clinic will have staff on hand to help veterans with eligibility and enrollment questions. Additional information is available on the VA Illiana Health Care System website.
The site previously housed an unemployment office. The building underwent a $6 million renovation.
The tentative opening date for the clinic is Nov. 18.
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