Helping N. Utah veterans find the health care they need

Sunday , February 04, 2018 - 11:14 AM


No veteran should go without access to health care. Especially not in Northern Utah, with its Department of Veterans Affairs medical center.

Yet they do.

The question is, Why?

Terry Schow and Frank Maughan believe it’s because many veterans simply don’t realize they can find help here, where they live. And that’s something we can change.

  • RELATED: “Weber County officials form group to help direct military veterans to services”

Schow and Maughan both served in the U.S. Army. Now they dedicate themselves to serving veterans, who number about 15,000 in Weber County, according to a 2016 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Schow puts the number slightly higher, at 18,000 to 20,000.

  • RELATED: “Former Utah VA head says veterans are being miscounted, gets Chaffetz to help”

But no matter the exact number, Maughan and Schow keep seeing the same thing — veterans going without health care because they don’t know about VA services in Northern Utah.

Those services start with the George E. Wahlen VA Hospital in Salt Lake City, closely associated with the University of Utah School of Medicine. They extend to an outpatient clinic in South Ogden  and a VA intake site at Hill Air Force Base, which helps prepare veterans for life after the military.

So, to increase awareness of regional VA services, Maughan and Schow asked the Weber County Commission to create a Veterans Advisory Committee. Maughan sees it as a local link to the VA.

Schow pointed out that in Utah, veterans access VA services at a rate lower than the national average. He believes the county’s public relations network could help veterans find health care.

  • RELATED: “Weber County spends $456K on public relations, economic development contracts”

“What I’m hoping to do is increase awareness and, hopefully through commissioners, reach out to cities in Weber County to get the word out,” Schow told the commission.

Schow believes the advisory committee, approved Tuesday, Jan. 30, is the first of its kind at the county level in Utah. Maughan describes it as a “petri dish” that could serve as a statewide model; he’s already approached the Utah Association of Counties about establishing veterans advisory committees in all 29 counties.

First, let’s see what we can accomplish in Northern Utah.

No veteran should go without health care, especially when it’s so readily available. Now, thanks to the Weber County Veterans Advisory Committee, perhaps we can help more Northern Utahns find the services they need.

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