A program rolled out late last year by the Veterans Administration in an attempt to ensure timely access to health care services is creating confusion locally. The Veterans Choice Program gives veterans the option to seek non-VA health care rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling a long distance to the nearest facility. Starke County Veterans Service Officer Terry Turner says Starke County is geographically situated between the facilities in Crown Point and in Knox. Both places are more than 45 miles away by car, but Turner says the VA looks at distance as the crow flies. He adds the VA will allow patients to see other health care providers if certain qualifications are met. These include having to wait longer than 30 days for an appointment. However, the steps in the process are confusing. Starke County veterans with questions about the VA health care system or any other programs can contact Turner at 574-772-9132 or 574-249-0415. He’s in his office at the Starke County Annex from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. CST Monday through Wednesday but is available by appointment during other times. Find more information about the Veterans Choice Program online at http://www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/.
Written by Mary Perren
WKVI News Director Mary Perren is glad to be back home in northern Indiana and on the radio. She’s a North Judson native with more than 20 years of news experience. She’s worked in print and radio news in Indianapolis, Hopkinsville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn. and most recently in Winamac before taking over as news director for Kankakee Valley Broadcasting in February of 2013. Her work has been honored by the Associated Press, StateNets News Association, Curb Foundation, Hoosier State Press Association and IBA. When she’s not sitting in the anchor chair or chasing down news, Mary enjoys shopping for antiques, attending concerts and taking long walks and rides in her vintage Saab convertible, weather permitting. She’s also a hopelessly devoted Chicago Cubs fanatic who still cringes at the mention of Steve Garvey and Josh Beckett and maintains it wasn’t Steve Bartman’s fault.