I am writing as a partially disabled combat infantry veteran of Vietnam, regarding your recent article "The Long Wait," (April 18) about the new VA clinic in Eureka. We live on a cattle ranch near Petrolia, almost 50 miles from Eureka. I have been using the VA since 1994 when my private insurance became impossible to maintain. While I agree that the previous privately contracted VA clinic operated by Drs. Craig and Swenson was very well-run, I believe that the new VA clinic is not nearly so bad as Heidi Walters implies. While it has had some start-up problems and difficulty retaining doctors, so far, it is still functioning better than many hospital emergency rooms or privately run clinics.
I have had to make two hurried appointments for a serious respiratory infection in the past week, and both times was able to consult with a visiting physician from Ukiah. Dr. Shepard was most helpful. My waiting time is usually not more than 10 minutes at the new VA clinic. The rest of the staff have been universally polite, respectful and helpful, and include several nurses and medical personnel who have served the Humboldt veteran community very well in both the former and present VA clinics. I want to publicly commend all of them and reassure others in the public and the veterans' community.
— John M.G. Brown, Petrolia