In an effort to bring medical care a little closer to the community of disabled veterans living in Southeast Georgia, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., will host a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee field hearing at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26, at Altamaha Technical College in Jesup.
The committee, which has proposed establishing community-based outpatient clinics in Hinesville and Brunswick, will hear testimony from the Veterans Administration, the Georgia Department of Veterans Service and from area representatives of Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“We have been working on this for a very long time and I’m eager to get these clinics up and running,” said U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga.
“The clinic will provide local, immediate outpatient-based care for routine medical needs and save veterans both the time and money associated with driving to larger facilities much further from home.” The hearing also will explore issues pertaining to delays in opening the Hinesville and Brunswick clinics, according to Sheridan Watson, press secretary for Isakson.
Local veterans say they often have to travel to Savannah or Kingsland for their medical appointments.
These clinics are the only two VA clinics in Southeast Georgia. There are currently 13 VA clinics across the state. Garlon Penland, commander of Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 46, said most residents don’t realize how many disabled veterans live in Southeast Georgia. The local DAV chapter is at 110 Bagley Avenue in Hinesville. “Liberty County has 7,620 disabled veterans,” Penland said. “Long County has 1,392.” He went on to list the numbers of disabled veterans in surrounding counties: Tatnall has 2,428; Bryan has 2,664; Wayne has 2,761; McIntosh has 1,321; Ware has 3,874; and Camden has 5,949. “Chatham has the highest population of disabled vets,” Penland said. “They have 25,672.” The area’s total number of disabled veterans adds up to 54,526 people in need of medical services, he said.
Penland said it was his understanding that, initially, the VA proposed building a 10,000-square foot clinic in Hinesville. “Once they (the VA) found out how many veterans they had here, they realized they needed 20,000 square feet,” he said. Penland added that the VA would now consider building the clinic as a permanent structure, rather than as a mobile one.
The hearing will be in the C. Paul Scott Polytechnical Center at 1777 W. Cherry St., on the campus of Altamaha Technical College in Jesup.
All military veterans are welcome to attend the hearing and to participate in a question-and-answer session following the panel’s testimony.