I-TEAM: Vets Drive 150 Miles For Medical Care

Decatur – Imagine driving 150 miles for medical care.  As the WAND TV I-TEAM has discovered some local veterans are doing just that.

Many get their care in Danville 95 miles from Decatur.  But the Danville VA hospital has cut back on some of its services requiring an even longer 150 mile drive to Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Danville did not have a specialist there.  So they sent me over to the Indianapolis VA Medical Center,” Navy veteran Yolanda Blackwell of Decatur told the I-TEAM.  “You have a lot of people in Central Illinois that have to travel over to Indianapolis.  It’s a hardship on a lot of people.”

Marine veteran David Requarth of Decatur is also making the trip to Indianapolis.  He will have knee replacement surgery.  He has been trying to schedule the surgery since February.

Vietnam veteran Bob Ramsey moved from Decatur to Danville so he would be closer to the VA facility.  He also is required to travel to Indianapolis for some treatment.  Ramsey has been in bad health for years.  “I’ve had seven heart attacks.  Bypass surgery.  Cancer six times.  Diabetes.  Multiple amputations,” he told I-TEAM reporter Doug Wolfe.

Ramsey says since he is a veteran he wants to continue using VA services even though a recent surgery took 5 months to schedule.  Blackwell would like to see veterans be able to use local hospitals and then have those facilities be reimbursed by the VA.

“Decatur’s got some perfectly good doctors,” Blackwell stated.  “I don’t see why we can’t use them instead of having to travel all the way over to Indianapolis.”

Congressman Rodney Davis, (R) Illinois, agrees.  “Let them go to DMH.  Let’s let them go to St. Mary’s.  Let’s let them go to Springfield Memorial or St. John’s when they’re in those areas, or Carle.  Let the VA reimburse for that care,” Davis said.

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