Twenty veterans received medical examinations, consultations, referrals, eligibility and enrollment assistance and various other service organizations. One of the most enlightening booths available at the clinic were from the California Telephone Access Program, which granted everyday Americans quality phones, no matter what your disability might be.
“You don’t have to have anything severely wrong with you to be eligible for these phones,” said Lydia Santillan, outreach specialist for the Deaf & Disabled Telecommunications program. “You can get a free phone if you have bifocals, reading glasses or glaucoma to qualify.”
Many different phones were on display based on special needs, including phones for the deaf and hands free phones for those with severe arthritis.
“Not enough people take advantage of these resources. We don’t even ask for a social security card, driver’s license or income returns,” said Santillan. “You’ll be surprised with the quality and clear conversations you’ll have with relatives.”
Needless to say, most of the veterans were able to procure themselves a free cell phone for their troubles. The only requirement is to sign an application and to ask your primary doctor to sign off on your needs.
Valerie Gabriel, LCSW rural outreach coordinator for the VA, stated that though they had only received 17 local veterans at their clinic, she was pleased to make the trip from Sonora, where she currently works.
“We are doing some very good benefits today,” said Gabriel. “These type of events allows us to get invested in the VA healthcare. I’m pleased with the turnout. The flow went pretty well. Sometimes, veterans have to wait for hours at these clinics.”
Gabriel said the outcome of these clinics could have lasting benefits for suffering veterans. She explained that a Turlock man had developed severe problems and was close to having a heart attack.
“His blood pressure was through the roof. We sent him to the Palo Alto Health Care System. They have the best doctors there. Most graduate from Harvard,” she said.
Little did she know that the same man would walk in Thursday afternoon to thank her for her services.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Gabriel. “It was nice to see someone come in just to thank us for our awareness campaign. We do this because we care. It is worth it to know that you’ve done all you can to help these people.”
Also in attendance was Mike Anderson, a field representative and veterans’ liaison from Congressman Jeff Denham’s office, R-Turlock.
“Jeff Denham is a proud supporter of our veterans,” said Anderson. “We want to be sure we do all we can to help them get what they need to stay healthy.”
U.S. Army soldier Omar Ahmad took advantage of his assets, and found the clinic to be incredibly helpful.
“A lot of service members don’t know about these VA services,” said Ahmad. “These people help us get medical insurance and health care. People need to pay attention to these brochures. They’ll find something they’ll need in them.”
Dennis Blake, a Navy veteran and local volunteer, wanted to help out at the clinic after he took advantage of their services years ago.
“These clinics help getting the awareness out there,” he said. “These clinics bring their services to you, so if you physically have a problem, the clinic can help. This is a relaxed environment, and not like other clinics you see everywhere else.”
Veterans are less likely to go to clinics, even when they suffer extreme hardships, if the services are more than 10 miles away, said Gabriel.
“We do all we can to bring the services to them,” she said. “We’re lucky to have a mobile clinic for the rural regions now.”
American Legion Post 168 Commander Amy Hussar said the legion would attempt to bring the clinic to Patterson every six months, if possible, for the near future.
Anyone interested in attending one of these clinics, however, will have one last chance before the end of summer to secure a seat. Today, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Newman Firehouse will be host to the Va’s Mobile Medical Clinic at 1162 N St. in Newman.
“If we help just one person, we’ve succeeded,” said Gabriel.