Lest We Forget, Part 5

This is Mike Hoey writing to you one more time.

Much of my week-long series on U.P. veterans’ issues has been about a possible loss of service officers.

But there’s some growth as well within the services themselves.

With the region’s only V.A. hospital 2 hours away, and no clinics closer than that, either, Schoolcraft County veterans have a hard time receiving V.A. treatment.

Washington recognizes that, and they’re doing something about it.

That’s the final part of my series, ‘Lest We Forget’.

Jack Hoag is the commander of the Manistique VFW post.

He says he’s lucky to have private insurance.

It means he doesn’t have to rely on the V.A.

But a lot of Schoolcraft County veterans do.

At the moment, if they need care, they have a 2-hour trip ahead of them.

Hoag says they go to Iron Mountain, but he knows of some vets within the post who sometimes need to go to Milwaukee for more specialized care.

Veterans get a free ride to the Oscar Johnson V.A. Medical Center.

But the V.A. realizes that’s not good enough.

They’re in the process of opening 10 new clinics around the country right now.

One of those 10 will be in Manistique.

And it’ll be in an unlikely location, a former gas station and convenience store in front of the Pamida on US-2.

The V.A. confirms it is happening, and area veterans can look forward to it.

But they say a lot of things still have to happen before it opens.

Oscar Johnson V.A. Medical Center associate director Jason Petti says they’ve already found some of the people who’ll staff the clinic, but most haven’t been found yet, including a physician and nurses.

The actual interior structure of the clinic hasn’t been built yet out of the old store.

There’s no timetable to open the doors, but Petti expects Schoolcraft County veterans will be happy with what they see.

He expects most of the 1,200 or so veterans in the county to use it.

The V.A. already has clinics in Marquette, Hancock, Ironwood, Menominee and Kinross.

Petti says they’re always looking for ways to better serve vets.

The Marquette clinic moved about 6 months ago, and there are still areas of the U.P. that have potential for future clinics.

There’s no word, though, on what any of those areas might be.

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