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New V.A. clinic expanding health services in the Coastal Bend

Posted at 7:19 PM, Sep 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-06 20:19:56-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If you pass by the corner of South Padre Island Drive and West Point Road in Corpus Christi, you’ll notice a new building is under constriction.

It’s the new Veterans Affairs clinic where veterans can go for healthcare services for primary care and mental health.

It will also have a homeless veterans program.

The two current clinics have those services, but the new clinic will add radiology, MRI, and lab services.

Army veteran Ronald Taylor Smith travels as far as San Antonio for MRI services.

“Every honorably discharged veteran deserves good medical treatment,” Smith said.

Smith is excited to have the services available in the area.

He said Corpus Christi needs services that are consolidated into one building.

Despite the amount of new services that will be provided, Smith said some veterans struggle to even get a chance to use them.

Knowing all too well that some veterans are unable to drive or don’t have a car, Smith volunteers to drive veterans to their appoints.

“Giving back to an individual who served this country is just a small portion of what that veteran deserved,” he said.

Richard Barrett volunteers at one of the current V.A. specialty clinics in Corpus Christi. He said volunteering is a way to connect with other veterans.

“It makes me feel better knowing that somehow I provided help to someone else,” he added.

Jose Noe Mendez, 96, has a hard time walking and has vision problems.

He hopes the clinic will be open longer than the others.

“When I was in war, we fought Saturdays and Sundays and 24/7. We were out there sleeping and in the mud and the rain and then we come over here and the clinic is closed Saturday and Sunday,” he said.

Hugo Martinez, the V.A.’s customer service manager for the Rio Grande Valley and the Coastal Bend, said the V.A. has contracts with local urgent cares and hospitals for weekend services.

However, the clinic will not be open on the weekends.

He said the V.A. will host town halls so veterans can get answers to their questions about the clinic before it opens up in December. He’s hoping those town halls will start next month.

Smith said it’s important that veterans keep fighting for services to be expanded.

“The government promised us if we did our service that we’d have medical treatment, and we want to hold their feet to the fire,” he said.