FORT SMITH, Ark — Two new Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics are coming to our area in 2022 with one in Fort Smith and the other in Fayetteville.
U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Denis McDonough says this has been a long time coming.
"The demand for inpatient care how far outstrips supply at the moment," McDonough said. “That's true here in Arkansas, that's true across the country."
McDonough says the demand is growing larger than before due to the coronavirus pandemic, which left many feeling isolated and alone.
Sheep Dog CEO Sergeant Major Lance Nutt says he has tried for years to fight against veterans being lonely and depressed.
"We focus on getting them up off the couch. We engage in living a positive productive, meaningful life," Nutt said.
Senator John Boozman and Representative Steve Womack were said to play major roles in bringing the clinics to our region, appropriating funds for both clinics.
“Across the country were had a great shortage of access to mental health care," McDonough said. “This new facility will help us begin to address that."
The Fayetteville clinic will serve veterans with depression, PTSD and substance abuse, which McDonough says the CDC reports an uptick of, blaming substance abuse for causing more than 100,000 deaths.
"The mental healthcare facility is what needs specifically,” said Tanya Taylor, Arkansas Veterans of Foreign Wars Chaplin. “So, we can expand the group therapy and substance abuse issue."
Taylor is happy to hear about the changes coming to the VA. In Fort Smith they are expanding to a new location on Phoenix Avenue, focusing on outpatient physical and mental healthcare for veterans.
Nutt hopes this will truly help veterans because he says we have been giving money to the VA with little results.
“Results for us is an overall decline in suicide rates among our nation's veterans," he said.
He is hoping the country continues to serve those who bravely served in our military and asks veterans to take advantage of these new opportunities in our area.
"Too many of our veterans think their best days are behind them after they serve their country,” Nutt said. “To the contrary, your best days are ahead of you because you served your country."
The Fort Smith and Fayetteville clinics could both open as early as March 2022.