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Barrow: Boro will get VA clinic

But warns process may take several years

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    A Veterans Administration health clinic will open one day in Bulloch County Congressman John Barrow told the Statesboro Rotary Club Monday. But Barrow also cautioned that the bureaucratic process of gaining final approval would take several years.

Barrow spoke about the VA clinic, the war in Iraq, the new farm bill and several other topics to the gathering of around 150 Rotarians at Forest Heights Country Club.

"(Getting a VA Clinic) is a long-term project that's going to take years, I'm sorry to say," Barrow said. "But it will happen. There are more than 30,000 vets in the Statesboro service area who need the help."

Barrow and his office are working with Statesboro veteran Ray Hendrix, who has gathered more than 5,000 signatures in a petition drive supporting the establishment of a clinic.

"Ray is the right person to help get this done," Barrow said. "But it's a long procedure."

Barrow, a Democrat who won a second term in Congress from District 12 last November, said the partisan politics practiced in Washington can be difficult to deal with at times.

"This is a big country where people talk different, act different and have different priorities," Barrow said. "I don't refer to my colleagues as Democrats or Republicans when working on legislation. We are all elected to serve our constituents. And we all are Americans."

Barrow told the group that he was proud of the legislation passed last week that will pay for state health insurance programs like PeachCare.

"There are 300,000 kids in Georgia presently enrolled in PeachCare," Barrow said. "This new legislation will make an additional 200,000 kids eligible to enroll."

As for other successes, Barrow pointed to the recent adoption of a new farm bill, which he said, "keeps the best of the old bill and gets rid of the bad," and the adoption of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

"We now have a law that mandates shipping cargo be inspected at its point of origin and certified safe," Barrow said. "I don't know about you, but I don't want to wait until it gets to Savannah to find out what's in one of those containers."

Barrow said he thinks the Iraq war has been mismanaged, but he doesn't support a measure that would set a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. forces.

"We must make the Iraqis more responsible for their own future," Barrow said. "What we've been doing is saying the more problems that arise, we'll take care of them. What we should do is say the more problems you take care of yourself, the longer we'll stay and help you. And, conversely, we must make clear that the less they do to try to stop their civil war the shorter our stay will be."

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