(Lamar, CO) -- After possible closures of VA healthcare clinics were identified, communities on the eastern plains and SE Colorado started paying attention. They paid so much attention that a planned resource fair and town hall in Lamar on Tuesday night was a packed house.
Director of VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare system Michael Kilmer said he's a big believer in community and felt that in Lamar with the group.
"Now that we're allowed to travel my colleagues and I, we agreed that we need to go out and have a show of force and support."
He says the on-the-spot care featured healthcare information, VA benefits, VA vet center and the state Veterans department.
There are more questions to be answered and he said they're working on solutions that are within their control. "I think it's more important to rebuild trust so we are committing to come out on a more regular basis." The questions that were answered were mostly concerning care and how will Vets get the health care they need in rural areas. Kilmer answered they are actively recruiting more healthcare professionals to live and work in the areas that could be affected by VA healthcare clinic closures.
"We are going to be out here at least twice a year with this type of presence so people can get their immediate concerns met, visibility matters and consistency matters and I think with that we can also rebuild trust. "
Kilmer says it was an especially awesome moment to be able to recognize a World War 2 Vet in attendance. Gilbert Rasmussen stood when his name was called and the crowd returned it with a standing ovation.
"The amazing support out of Lamar, it is truly heart warming!" Kilmer exclaimed."
He said his entire group was excited to see a large sign on their way into town that read, SAVE OUR VA.
"When you see those small signs and symbols, they mean a lot."
NOTE: Wednesday, August 10th a resource fair will be at the La Junta Senior Center with a town hall planned for 5:30.
And you can listen to the interview with Director Kilmer, here.
Here are some photos of Tuesday Night's town hall in Lamar
It's not everyday that you get to take a selfie with a World War 2 Vet,
Mr. Rasmussen. He showed me the new challenge coin he received at the resource fair and town hall.