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Published March 05, 2012, 08:10 PM

After Years of Waiting, Devils Lake Vets Hopeful for New Clinic

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Lake Region veterans say they're encouraged that Veterans Affairs has committed to opening a clinic in Devils Lake. Some veterans say they've waited so long that they think it's too good to be true.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Lake Region veterans say they're encouraged that Veterans Affairs has committed to opening a clinic in Devils Lake.

Some veterans say they've waited so long that they think it's too good to be true.

The VA originally announced plans to build a clinic in Devils Lake in 2004.

Veterans say local health care would be beneficial, but they're skeptical after years of waiting.

"I kind of gave up on it," World War II veteran Duane Carter said.

Hope can fade after eight years.

"But it looks like it's gonna happen," Carter said.

In 2004, the VA agreed to open clinics in five North Dakota towns. Devils Lake is the only one of those towns that doesn't have a clinic yet. Navy vet Douglas Mootz doesn't use VA care. He says existing clinics are too far away.

"The VA clinic would probably, I'd probably start using it if it comes," Mootz said.

Local vets go as far away as Fargo for VA care. A Lake Region clinic would make a world of difference.

"It would probably be a mile or two versus 170 or 180. Definitely be a convenience," Army vet Dale Kruckenberg said.

"That's good because I've got problems with my eyes, so driving is not the best thing, unless it's nice," Carter said.

Not only would veterans be able to receive medical care close by, they would be able to see their trusted doctors in Fargo without leaving town.

The Devils Lake clinic will have telehealth capabilities, letting doctor and patient see each other on a computer screen from hundreds of miles away.

"Would definitely be an advantage to be able to have a conversation with them rather than through the mail," Kruckenberg said.

After being promised a clinic nearly a decade ago, they say their optimism is tempered. But they hope the VA's commitment means they'll see a clinic sooner rather than later.

"But like I say, I'll believe it when I see it," Mootz said.

"I'm 86 years old. Hoping it gets squared away real soon," Carter said.

Despite the VA commitment, there is no timetable for when a clinic could open in Devils Lake.

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