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Director of Veterans Affairs Medical Center visits Hagerstown

'I want to make sure every veteran in this area knows that the Martinsburg center is here for them'

January 18, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
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HAGERSTOWN — Officials from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va., were in Hagerstown on Tuesday to let those who served in the military know that they are entitled to receive quality health care.

Ann R. Brown, medical center director, said during a media event at the VA's Outpatient Clinic on Opal Court in Hagerstown that the center in Martinsburg and its six satellite offices in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia provide health care to more than 30,000 veterans each year.

She said a seventh satellite office is to open this spring at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md.

"We want to serve more," Brown said. "I want to make sure every veteran in this area knows that the Martinsburg center is here for them. We want to get the word out."

Brown said that in addition to providing primary care, the Hagerstown clinic has a dietitian, a pharmacist and a women's health provider. They also have a closed-circuit television that lets psychiatrists confer with mental-health patients.

The amount of medical coverage that the government pays for is determined on a case-by-case basis, Brown said. The government typically pays more of the cost if the condition is service-related.

Patients usually are referred to the Martinsburg VA Center if a doctor at one of the smaller clinics determines that a patient has a serious condition. Brown said the 500-bed facility provides state-of-the-art medical care.

"We can do everything short of (organ) transplants," Brown said.

Three hundred of the beds at the Martinsburg facility are reserved for the domiciliary unit, which provides care for veterans with mental-health ailments such as post traumatic stress disorder. The domiciliary unit also assists homeless veterans and those with substance-abuse problems.

Brown said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki has made a pledge to end homelessness among veterans within the next five years. As a result, the Martinsburg center is housing some homeless veterans and giving them job skills and education training to help them become more employable. She said that in some cases, the VA helps homeless veterans find jobs.

"We want to help them sustain themselves in the community," Brown said.

She said veterans can enroll to receive health benefits by visiting the Martinsburg VA Medical Center or one of the six clinics in Hagerstown; Cumberland, Md.; Harrisonburg, Va., Stephens City, Va.; Franklin, W.Va.; or Petersburg, W.Va.

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Dept. of Veterans Affairs benefits information

To learn more about receiving health benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, visit www.martinsburg.va.gov.

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