New option for veterans seeking healthcare
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Combat veterans often return to the Valley in need of physical and mental healthcare. Many of them don't seek help.
A veteran's clinic in Oakhurst is one of three in the Central Valley serving vets who don't live near Fresno's VA hospital.
It's convenient for Kurtis Foster, a wounded Marine Corps veteran living a few miles away.
His three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq brought a pile of injuries he simply endured.
The last came in July of 2007, when his Humvee was blown up with him in it.
"So they ended up medi-vacing me. They wouldn't let me back in my unit, they wouldn't let me back in my platoon. They figured I'd been hurt too much," Foster said.
He would be sent home for several surgeries, rehab, and finally a medical discharge.
He's grateful to be able to come to the Oakhurst clinic and skip the long drive to Fresno.
It saves him gas and the energy he needs for his body and mind to continue to healing from TBI -Traumatic Brain Injury.
"I wanted to get better I wanted to get back to the old me. And the VA has really helped me with that," he said.
The VA's three Valley clinics like this one have direct access to doctors and psychologists through the tele-health system.
"It's giving them increased access to healthcare. So we're able to interact with them over the video, to get a better a sense of their medical concerns using higher technology to serve their needs," Fresno VA physician Dr. Michael Tom said.
The wounds of war may have ended this marine's plans to make soldiering a career, but he's still determined to encourage other young vet's to sign up with the VA, to heal whatever ails them.
Those who suffered physical and/or psychological wounds on the battle fields of Iraq and Afghanistan may find these clinics closer to them and a place to find help and healing.
Kurtis' last piece of advice? Sign up with the VA As soon as you can.
"Don't worry about the PTSD, don't worry about the TBI, and when you're ready for the treatment it's available," he said.
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