The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

October 1, 2009

VA clinic holds grand opening

A dream that had been 10 years in the making came true Thursday as a Veterans Affairs clinic held its grand opening in Enid.

Jeff Tarrant, administrator of Integris Bass Baptist Health Center, said he appreciated the estimated 250 people who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house. Bass has the contract with VA to operate the clinic.

“This is a population that, if invited, they come. We appreciate them,” he said.

The clinic opened in Enid Health Center, 915 E. Garriott, Suite G, after years of work by local veterans tired of traveling to Oklahoma City for VA health care.

Louis Schweer, 82, of Covington, said the new clinic is “a great thing.”

“I don’t have to go to Oklahoma City all the time,” he said.

Schweer generally goes once or twice a year. He is required to take an annual physical, but he also goes to have his hearing aids worked on. The Navy veteran was stationed at Guam during World War II.

“This is going to be wonderful,” he said.

David Wood, director of Oklahoma City VA Medical Center, spoke to the crowd, thanking a number of Enid-area residents for their work to bring the clinic to Enid.

Retired Army Gen. Clyde Spence began working on getting a clinic to Enid 10 years ago, and recently retired Navy Capt. Craig Vance finally completed the task of bringing the clinic to Enid.

“This is an exciting day for us,” Tarrant said. “I talked with several veterans over the last several months about getting it started, and now it is finally open.”

Enid City Commissioner Lewis Blackburn is a military veteran and is not registered to receive benefits, but said Thursday he will come down and sign up.

Another veteran, Bill Washburn, 79, of Enid, is an Army veteran of the Korean War. He must go to the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center two or three times a month and said the local clinic will be much more convenient.

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