With the goal of reaching out to area veterans, whether they needed help filling out paperwork or needed a medical referral, it was basically ‘one stop shopping’ for the vets on Thursday.
The Department of Veterans Affairs mobile outreach clinic came from the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, making a stop in Escalon outside the American Legion Post on Second Street. Veterans from throughout the region, from Escalon, Riverbank, Oakdale and beyond were encouraged to attend.
“We can do EKGs here, blood pressure, vitals,” said health tech and van driver Khaliq Robinson, a veteran himself. They can also schedule a visit with the veteran’s doctor or enroll them in the VA at Palo Alto, where a doctor can do consultations for them.
Elsewhere, Doral Gonzales was helping local veteran Will Hecht fill out some paperwork, making sure everything was in order for him to receive benefits and take part in programs.
Gonzales is a retired Lt. Colonel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and now is working aboard the outreach van through the VA in Palo Alto. Hecht, a local businessman in Escalon, was on active military duty from 1983 to 1996 and in the reserves until 2000.
Veterans signed in inside the Legion post building, where several different stations were set up, and veterans visited the areas they needed.
“It’s a very good turnout and quite a few are getting signed up for programs,” said Post Commander Curtis Vaughn. “Quite a few veterans are finding out about their benefits and signing up for them.”
Veteran Mark Sward, who helped bring the outreach clinic to town, said he was extremely pleased.
“I thought if we got one, two guys here it would be great,” he said. “I am just blown away.”
Nearly three dozen veterans made a visit to the mobile outreach on Thursday, and officials plan a return visit in late summer, tentatively set for Aug. 29.
“We are very pleased, we call this the one-stop shopping for veterans, they get all their needs met here,” said Valerie Gabriel, the rural outreach coordinator.
Field representative Mike Anderson, the Veterans Liaison for Congressman Jeff Denham, added his praise for the program.
“It’s a great outreach,” he said.