VA mobile clinic to return to city

For the second year, veterans in the Petal area have a resource to turn to for health care services.

The G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center’s Rural Health Outreach Team will set up a Mobile Health Clinic to provide health care services and enrollment information to eligible Veterans in the area on March 29.

The first mobile clinic visit was around this time last year and approximately 90 veterans turned out for it. The mobile clinic will be available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Petal Civic Center. The mobile clinic will be at the civic center on the last Wednesday of each month.

The outreach team will provide the following services and information: eligibility determination, registration, enrollment, myhealthevet, physical exams, patient education, vet center, veterans benefit literature and women veterans literature.

The City of Petal has taken part in this due to the suggestion from Petal resident T.J. Gordon. Gordon said this is something he has been thinking about for several years because of the number of veterans in the Petal area and the lack of information for them about these services. After returning from meeting with Darryl Brady, director of the Department of Veteran Affairs Regional Office in Jackson, Gordon said Brady was impressed with the way Petal handled the mobile clinic.

“(Brady) said they would be more than happy to be back on May 25 when we will do it again,” Gordon said. “This is something I’ve wanted to do for years and years in the Petal area since we have a lot of veterans.”

Gordon joined the military in 1966.

“I waited three weeks to join after high school,” Gordon said.

Then later that year, on Dec. 3, 1966, Gordon was sent to Vietnam. He spent one year and three days.

This is one of the reasons Gordon took this project on. “There are a lot of misinformed veterans out there,” he said. “You need to have the VA come in and explain everything so they can get more understanding.”

Gordon said the main goal is to explain the different ways one can receive VA benefits.

“I think it will be a good thing in the future too,” Gordon said.

One reason is that there are more female veterans in the military now than ever. Gordon said there are services for females specifically that need to be explained.

According to Gordon, Brady and the VA are looking into doing more events like this on a larger scale.

“The director (Brady), he though it was very outstanding,” Gordon said. “So we got an A+ on that.”

Last year, Patricia Thompson, a Petal resident, helped sign participants in and get feedback from them. Thompson recalled helping one man in particular.

“One man was frustrated with the system and came in angry, but I talked with him and convinced him to stay,” Thompson said. “He started out angry and distraught, but when he left he said, ‘thank you for convincing me to stay’ and had to hug me. That totally made my day.” Veterans who attend are asked to bring a copy of their DD 214 with them. For additional information contact Tom Hardges, Recreation Director at (601) 554-5440 or Sylvia Owens, Outreach Coordinator at (601) 209-5948.