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Response from veterans needed to make services available at local hospital

By: Rebecca Herman
Freelance Writer

The Veterans Affairs office in Johnson County has some beneficial information that needs to be spread across the community to our military veterans.

Ability to use Johnson County Community Hospital
At the end of September, Ralph Hutto, Veteran Affairs service officer in Johnson County, met with Congressman Phil Roe and his assistant, John Abe Teague; Mayors Larry Potter and Lawrence Keeble; Commander of the Tennessee American Legion, Robert Hensley; Terry Reece of the VFW; Charlene Ehert and her assistant from Mountain Home Veteran Center; and members of the Johnson County Community Hospital. The meeting was “very productive…on behalf of the veterans in our area,” said Hutto.
In this meeting it was determined that there is a need for local veterans to utilize the Johnson County Community Hospital for their checkups and doctor visits because of the distance to the VA hospital in Johnson City and Bristol. However, the Veterans Affair office needs information from local Veterans in order to get this process approved and letters of support from the mayors, which has already been promised. Hutto said that his office needs the name, phone number, address, Social Security number, branch that the person served with, and the years served from at least 700 local veterans. This information is needed so the veterans can be verified. Once all the information has been collected and verified, then Ehert will be able to go to Washing D.C. and request the funding that is needed to hire doctors, nurses, and space to use the Johnson County Community Hospital.
As of now, Hutto has information on about 200 veterans. “Our veterans need this service in Johnson County; many veterans are failing in health, can’t drive, have children who work during the day and can’t take their parents to their doctor appointments, and the distance and time it takes to get to a VA hospital is too much,” says Hutto. Hutto also mentioned that many of the veterans have traveled all the way to Johnson City or Bristol just to have simple tests done. The program would save veterans and their families money and time.
Hutto said that he knows people are wary about giving personal information, but in order to gain this program for veterans, the information is crucial. “We can’t even check military records unless we are given Social Security numbers.”
There is no deadline, but the sooner Hutto gets the 700 veterans’ information, then the sooner this program will be available at the Johnson County Community Hospital.

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