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Health Services for Veterans May Come to St. John

Sept. 29, 2008 — If enough St. John veterans sign up for medical care at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs office on St. Thomas, services could be provided on St. John.
"Numbers play a big part of this game," said Lorelei Monsanto, who heads up Delegate Donna M. Christensen's office on St. John.
In hopes of getting the St. John facility open, Monsanto is teaming with Jerry Runyon, commander of American Legion Viggo E. Sewer Post 131, and Adjutant Paul Devine to work with the Veterans Affairs office staff in Puerto Rico. Currently, veterans must trek over to St. Thomas for care.
However, Devine cautioned that St. John veterans won't get a facility unless enough veterans come forward.
Time is of the essence.
"Do it immediately," Devine said.
Census figures show that 241 veterans of various branches of the military live on St. John. So far, only 41 have signed up for medical services at the federal Veterans Affairs facility in Havensight Mall, St. Thomas. A St. John facility might also be convenient for veterans living on the East End of St. Thomas, Devine said.
Under discussion are two rooms at the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center to be used for veterans' medical services.
There are numerous reasons why veterans may be reluctant to sign up for medical services.
"It really is a puzzle," Devine said.
Some don't realize veterans' services are available, while others want to put their military service behind them. Some are homeless, and still others don't need the care, she said.
Devine would also like to know where deceased veterans are buried so the American Legion can place American flags on their graves during Memorial Day and Veterans Day services.
For more information, call Lorelei Monsanto at 776-1212 or Paul Devine at 693-9410 or 514-6615.
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