OGDEN — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is set to open a new satellite medical center in Weber County next month.
Terry Schow, Vietnam veteran and former executive director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs, said the VA will open a new Community-Based Outpatient Clinic at approximately 3900 Washington Blvd. in South Ogden. The facility will be located near where the old Albertsons grocery store sat for many years, close to South Ogden’s southern border.
According to information from the American Legion, the VA currently operates more than 800 CBOCs nationwide. Operating under the umbrella of the VA, the Veterans Health Administration offers the clinics to make veterans’ access to health care easier. The clinics provide the most common outpatient services, like general health and wellness visits, without the hassle of visiting a larger medical center.
Schow said the new CBOC in South Ogden will begin accepting patients on Oct. 14. A grand opening ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 20. Schow, who also chaired the Utah VA’s Rural Health Advisory Committee, said the VHA is working to build up its network of CBOCs to include more rural locations, further expanding access to care.
The VHA operates CBOCs in Moab, Orem, Price, Roosevelt, St. George and West Valley.
“If it weren’t for these CBOCs, veterans from all over the state would have to travel to the main [VA hospital] in Salt Lake City,” Schow said. “And obviously, a lot of us are getting older, so traveling great distances can be tough.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Utah veterans are significantly older than the general population, with two-thirds of them being at least 55 years old and 44% being at least 65 years old. The bureau says there was just under 15,000 veterans living in Weber County between 2012 and 2016. There was another 18,000 in Davis County, and even more scattered in smaller counties like Box Elder, Morgan, Cache and Rich. At last count, the total number of veterans living in Utah’s six most northern counties was just over 40,000.
And that number might be even larger because the total number of veterans actually living in the state is a matter of debate.
The most current numbers from the Census Bureau show Utah’s statewide veteran population to be around 144,000, made up of men and women who served in every major U.S. conflict from World War II to the ongoing war in Afghanistan. The U.S. VA says the state has around 152,000 veterans. But an independent Utah database, which uses the Utah Department of Information Technology and analyzes information from the Department of Workforce Services and the Utah Drivers License Division, shows the state has approximately 180,000 veterans.
“We’ve got a lot of veterans up north, stretching clear to the Idaho border,” Schow said. “So to be able to drive to Ogden instead of fighting the traffic all the way down to Salt Lake is a huge plus.”