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Statesboro vet starts petition to establish local VA clinic
Barrow for Web
Congressman John Barrow (D-Savannah) - photo by FILE
    Ray Hendrix has a vision of seeing a Veterans Affairs medical clinic located in Statesboro.
    To see that vision become a reality, Hendrix is doing everything he can, including collecting signatures and even meeting with his congressman to try to persuade him of the need for a clinic.
    According to Hendrix's calculations, there are nearly 34,000 veterans in the 14 county region that includes Bulloch, Screven, Evans, Jenkins, Liberty and others.   
    Currently, the closest clinics to Statesboro are in Savannah, Dublin and Augusta. Hendrix said the Savannah clinic has been overcrowded since it opened and asking veterans to drive to Dublin or Augusta is too far.
    Ideally, Hendrix would like to see a primary care clinic with a doctors, nurses and administrative staff. If a veteran needed additional or more specialized treatment, they would need to go to either Dublin, Augusta or Charleston, S.C.
    Hendrix said he'd like to collect at least 2,000 signatures before he goes to Washington D.C. to meet with Jim Nicholson, secretary of veterans affairs.
    "We're in the process of getting letters of support from our state representatives and state senators. We already have letters from the (Statesboro) mayor and city council as well as the (Bulloch County) Chairman and county commissioners," he said. "This is an all-out effort."
    Hendrix doesn't have a hard and fast deadline for when he wants to have the signatures collected, but hopes to have it done by the middle of summer.
    If someone wants to sign the petition and hasn't seen one to sign, Hendrix said they could contact him and he'd be sure they had the opportunity to sign.
    "Wherever they are, I'll come to them and leave them some blank forms if they want to help get other people to sign it," he said. Hendrix can be reached at (912) 481-1455 (cell) or (912) 764-2097.
    One person who already supports the idea is Congressman John Barrow (D-Savannah) who has pledged his support to do what he can to get a clinic in Statesboro.
    "From the first time we approached him, he said he was for it 100 percent," Hendrix said. "He said he would do everything he could and even assigned one of his right-hand men to work with me."
    Last month, nearly 80 veterans packed a room in the Honey Bowen Building to ask for Barrow's support in locating a VA clinic in Statesboro. Barrow said then he'd do everything he can do get a facility here, but cautioned this area is up against other places in the country that may have a higher concentration of veterans in a similar-sized region.
    "I won't stop until veterans get the care they deserve," Barrow said in April.
    Harper Lawson, spokesman for Barrow, said the congressmen is very supportive of establishing a clinic in Statesboro.
    He said Barrow's office has reached out to the Veterans Affairs committee and other committees to do what they can to to see a clinic put in the area.
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