Victory for veterans |

Victory for veterans

Veterans Affairs to open community clinic in Craig

Michael Condie, service officer at the Routt County Veterans Affairs office, stands in front of a poster of Marines in his Sundance Plaza office. Condie has worked for years to bring health care for veterans to Northwest Colorado, and found out Wednesday a VA clinic will open in Craig in September.
John F. Russell

— Veterans in Northwest Colorado will be able to get medical care in Craig this fall.

U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and U.S. Rep. John Salazar, Democrats and brothers, announced Wednesday the Department of Veterans Affairs will open a community-based outreach clinic in Craig. A VA press release said the nurse-run clinic will open no later than Sept. 30 and will provide part-time service five days a week “in leased or donated space.” The estimated 4,200 military veterans in Northwest Colorado have had to drive to Grand Junction or Denver for medical services.

“This new community-based outreach clinic in Craig will mean real access for these rural Colorado veterans to the health care our nation promised,” Sen. Salazar said.

“Our veterans are the ones who are willing to put their lives on the line and give their country everything they have to give,” added Rep. Salazar, a veteran and a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “Now it is our turn to look out for them.”

Michael Condie, a retired Marine and current service officer at the Routt County VA office, celebrated the news.

“I just think it’s great,” Condie said. “We’ve been pushing for years to get a CBOC here. This is going to solve a lot of issues for a lot of veterans.”

Colorado is home to two VA hospitals, one each in Grand Junction and Denver, as well as 11 community-based outpatient clinics. None of those clinics serves Northwest Colorado. According to the VA, there are 414 veterans using VA medical services in Northwest Colorado.

Condie provides a transportation service for veterans, hiring a driver to take veterans from Steamboat, Hayden, Craig and Meeker to and from Grand Junction.

Bud Nelson, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 in Craig, also provides transportation to Grand Junction – the VFW post used grant funds to purchase a van, which it shares with Moffat County officials. Nelson said the van has more than 80,000 miles on it after two years.

“There’s a lot of trips,” Nelson said. “It’s a real problem. When we take a veteran down to Grand Junction, it runs about eight to 10 hours a day.”

Condie and Nelson have worked with local veterans for years to bring a VA clinic to the area.

“We got together with the Salazar brothers, did a lot of politicking and lobbying, and a lot of ‘beating on the old barrel head’ to make noise,” Nelson said.

“The credit here really goes to the veterans of Northwest Colorado,” Sen. Salazar said Wednesday.

The new clinic could serve as many as 700 veterans per year.

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