Springfield's new VA Clinic hosts ribbon-cutting ceremony

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - The Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks helps more than 54,000 veterans every year. Starting Thursday, 17,000 of those veterans will receive the care they need at the new Department of Veterans Affairs Gene Taylor Outpatient Clinic in Springfield, near Republic Road and Kansas Expressway.

The opening comes after a long wait. The clinic's move to Springfield was announced in 2015. Several expected opening dates were announced, but later pushed back. In the meantime, many Springfield area veterans traveled to Mount Vernon or even Fayetteville, Arkansas for care.

Jacie Dougherty, a Staff Psychologist at the new Springfield location, explained it was worth the wait. She said veterans will be able to get the care they need all under one roof. "It allows us to provide a number of other services to our patients, including primary care, dental services, auditory, vision clinic, endoscopy, a special procedures clinic services, as well as mental health services."

The clinic's Behavioral Health Department is not a walk in clinic, veterans must have an appointment to meet with a counselor. Dougherty explained veterans either need to call or come to their location for an initial consultation. After that initial consultation, the first appointment will be scheduled within four to six weeks. Crisis situations will be taken immediately. Dougherty also explained veterans will be seen immediately by a behavioral health professional if they are in a primary care appointment and mention mental or behavioral health concerns.

Dougherty talked about the types of therapies they offer. "We use evidence based therapies, which are researched and proven to be effective for treatments of conditions such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, insomnia, and substance abuse." Dougherty and her colleague added there are many types of support groups at the clinic, including peer support from other veterans and more.

The clinic will celebrate it's opening Thursday, January 24 at 11:00 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Dougherty said it is free and open to the public. The Department of Veterans Affairs Gene Taylor Outpatient Clinic is located at 1850 West Republic Road in Springfield.