Veterans care uneven say some in Merced, California

Merced Sun-StarNovember 23, 2010 

War may be hell, but peace is no little slice of heaven.

At least some of the county's military veterans feel that way about their post-service health care.

But others say they've been treated fairly once they hung up their uniforms.

Eli PaintedCrow has complained for years about the lack of medical services available for military veterans in Merced County.

The Veterans Affairs Merced Outpatient Clinic, whose parent company is the VA Central California Health Care System in Fresno, has limited services, PaintedCrow said. "They don't have therapists in Merced, period. The VA has never bothered to look for qualified therapists to work in Merced. They also don't provide physical therapy, which I'm in need of."

PaintedCrow, 50, who served in the U.S. Army and completed two tours of duty in Iraq, has to travel to the main facility in Fresno to get the services she needs -- and that's not easy. In addition to the long travel, appointments can be as much as two months away, she said. "They brag about being the No.1 in the nation, yet they fail to see the places that need correction, even if they've been told year after year about what's not happening in Merced County," she said of the VA Central California. "I really think Merced needs to improve its services."

While some veterans in Merced County have a tough time getting the services that are owed to them, others have had a positive experience, but say improvements could be made.

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