Local News

Officials Use Veterans Day to Offer Health Message

Posted November 9, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— Officials are using Veterans Day as an opportunity to get important health messages to North Carolina vets.

Access to health care is a big issue for the state's 700,000 veterans. Many have to travel long distances to V.A. hospitals, like the one in Durham.

New community-based outpatient clinics are being set up across the state for veterans. A clinic in Raleigh is expected to open before the end of the year.

"We're going to have not only primary care, preventive medicine. We're also going to provide some mental health visits there," says Charlie Smith, the state's veterans affairs director.

Mike Phaup is the director at Durham's V.A. Hospital. He says the new clinics will help veterans get quick, pro-active health-care solutions.

"They won't have to come to the hospital," Phaup says. "They don't have to be admitted. We get their disease process under control and handled before they need hospital care."

Officials also hope the clinics can help them detect viruses like hepatitis C early. The rate of hepatitis C among veterans is five times that of the general population.

Free screenings will take place across the state Saturday in honor of Veterans Day. State officials hope to bring attention to hepatitis C virus, outlining the potential for an epidemic.

The free screenings will take place in Asheville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh and Wilmington. For more information, call919-481-3024.

Veterans who are unable to make the free screening can order a free screening kit from theAmerican Liver Foundation. Call the same telephone number for more information.