New Binghamton Veterans Outreach Facility Unveiled
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- As the number of veterans in Broome County continues to rise, the number of those in need of care in that population increases every day.
14,000 veterans currently live in region.
"It's growing by leaps and bounds, but we're losing the older guys, especially the Vietnam guys to Agent Orange. I've lost two in the past two years," said Jeffery Largue, Chapter 60 Disabled American Veterans Commander.
According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, The U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange on trees and vegetation during the Vietnam War. Several decades later, concerns about the health effects from these chemicals rose.
But a big reason for veteran deaths is the difficulty of finding treatment.
Last year, the former Binghamton Community Based Outpatient Clinic took care of 4,300 veterans, just a little more than a quarter of the county's veteran population.
This forced many to make the drive to Syracuse, or simply go without the crucial care they need.
Nearby clinics also include Wilkes-Barre and Bath.
"We can do so many things for veterans and deliver care close to their home, so that's really the important thing," said Richard Kazel, Syracuse VA Ambulatory Care Service Manager. "We don't want people traveling unnecessary. We have an elderly population. It makes it difficult for them to get around."
Luckily, a brand-new 25,000 square foot VA clinic was unveiled to the public Thursday.
It will provide more timely access to primary care, diagnostic services, physical therapy, behavioral health and group therapy, and other services in an approptiately sized facility.
The location is close to I-81 and accessable through public transportation.
"Some guys don't have the money or the means to get to a medical facility, and they just fall by the wayside. We're trying to stop that now," Largue said.
Jeffery Largue, a Purple Heart recipient and cancer survivor, knows firsthand how important medical facilities can be to the region.
He served in Vietnam and moved here from the city a few years back.
He says this new clinic will go a long way in providing veteran's with the help they've been waiting for.
"This is going to be one of the best things that happened for the veterans in this county in I don't know how many years," Largue said. "We're going to get more doctors, there's going to be more space. More doctors means less waiting time."
The veteran's clinic will open its doors for the first time Monday morning.
There is also talk about expanding to a vacant building across the street.