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Veteran's clinic to reopen Sept. 15

The area has been without a veterans' clinic since May and it was announced Wednesday a new one will open Sept. 15 in Dickinson.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic will open its doors at 528 21st St. W.

In May Great Plains Clinic ended its contract to serve veterans, leaving an estimated 800 veterans in Stark County frustrated and in search of care.

"When the clinic shut down veterans had to go to the clinics in Bismarck or Fort Mead, in Sturgis, S.D., unless they made a deal with the Fargo to have their private care done here," said Chuck Crouch, Dickinson Post 3 commander. "Having a clinic open in Dickinson will save many veterans hours of travel time."

Vietnam veteran Brian Benesh is skeptical.

"It took years to get a VA clinic here in Dickinson and when we finally did get one they could not provide the care I needed, nor the care that many other veterans needed," he said. "And then on top of that it just shut down."

The new contractor of the clinic is CRAssociates, Inc., a Newington, Va. based company. It holds 20 similar contracts at various locations throughout the nation.

"We are committed to providing our veterans with the highest quality in health care, in a timely manner, and at locations that are accessible to meet their needs," said Michael J. Murphy, director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Fargo.

The new 3,000 square-foot facility has four examination rooms and a teleconferencing room for mental health and speech pathology. Services provided include basic primary care, flu shots, laboratory blood draws, prescriptions, and referrals for more serious issues.

"This clinic will give veterans in the area greater convenience and high quality of medical attention," Congressman Earl Pomeroy said.

Benesh hopes they can serve the younger vets from Afghanistan and Iraq.

"I feel the coming of this clinic is too little to late for us older vets," he said. "I hope I am wrong in thinking that but after being burned so many times it's hard to believe that this one will be any different.

The clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, starting Sept. 15.

The phone number will be 701-483-1850.