Fear can cloud people's judgement. Often, in an abundance of caution, irrational policies and procedures are applied to a perceived threat. For example: Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, the Brookings Veteran's Clinic has been locking the veterans out of the building. I'm not opposed to a little caution, as long as it's applied with some common sense. I've checked, and it's not VA policy to lock veterans out of veteran's clinics.

I'm 70, and when I visit the clinic I'm often the youngest veteran in the building. When these 70, 80, and 90 year old veterans visit this clinic (and the guard opens the locked door) they're examined to determine if they're toxic. Their names are then compared to a clipboard to see if they have and appointment. If their names don't appear on that board they're told, "You're not on my list. You don't belong here."

I've sat in the waiting room of that clinic and seen the fear and desperation on the faces of these old veterans when they're told, they don't belong there. It breaks my heart. I have a message for these flinty people working at the Brookings VA Clinic. These old veterans don't ask for much, but they do need medical help. Veterans do indeed belong at the veteran's clinic. Quit locking them out.

Stephen Hagerman



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