Tester praises new veterans clinic for Libby

New facility will provide closer-to-home care for thousands of vets

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The U.S. Veterans Administration has approved a new veterans outreach clinic for Libby, Senator Jon Tester announced today.

The clinic is being opened in an effort to improve health care for the nearly 3,800 veterans who live in Lincoln County.  Lincoln County is the only Montana county served by the V.A.’s regional hospital in Spokane, Washington, rather than Helena.

Veterans in Libby currently must drive more than 100 miles to Coeur d’Alene or Spokane for V.A. health care.  This new facility will allow them to get some of their routine health care much closer to home.

“Health care is something that these men and women have earned through service to our country,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  “Honoring that commitment to our veterans should not depend on whether they live in a big city.  You put your life on the line for our country, you deserve quality health care – no matter where you live.”

“We must give our veterans the respect they deserve by maintaining a comprehensive health care system that ensures they have access to the care and facilities they need,” said Senator Max Baucus. “I’ll continue to fight for solutions that work for Montana’s Veterans and I applaud the opening of this new clinic.”

The new community-based outreach clinic is expected to open later this year as a part-time facility.  It will be managed by the Spokane Veterans Administration Medical Center and will be the fourth outreach clinic opened in Montana since Tester joined the Veterans’ Affairs Committee in 2007.  Other clinics have been added in Lewistown, Cut Bank, and Havre.

Tester is the author of the Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act, which would improve care for the more than 100,000 veterans living in Montana.  Tester’s bill would improve mental health services for veterans, provide grants for innovative programs that improve health care for rural veterans, and lock in the current travel reimbursement for disabled veterans, secured by Tester.  The bill has cleared the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate.