Veterans celebrate expanded Bend VA clinic

Ribbon-cutting ceremony held

POSTED: 7:21 PM PST January 30, 2013    UPDATED: 7:59 PM PST January 30, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

World War II veteran and Bend resident Robert Wyatt used to have to make a three-hour trip to Portland to get his hearing aids checked and adjusted--but on Wednesday, he had his first appointment at Bend's new, larger VA clinic.

"It smells new like a new pair of shoes -- I mean, it's going to be nice," Wyatt said.

It's a 25,000-square-foot facility, more than twice as big as the old one, after a move literally across the street, off NE 27th Street.

And along with that new building smell and shine comes brand-new services.

The clinic now offers audiology and physical therapy.

It's a big deal for veterans who used to only get those services in Portland.

"Hearing loss and tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears, are the two top service disabilities for the VA," said Dr. Sara Ruth O'Dell of Portland, service chief for audiology and pathology for the VA's Community Based Outpatient Clinics.

Wyatt began his military service in the Navy in 1943, and like many service members, he lost some hearing.

"I was on a five-inch gun in the Navy and lost my hearing in this side of my head," he said.

Wyatt said the new facility is wonderful, and will especially help other veterans that have more trouble getting around.

"A lot of them are handicapped to the point where it's a chore to tie their shoes," Wyatt said.

Dozens of veterans and community members came out for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the new facility. There, speakers talked about the new building and services.

In addition to the physical therapy and audiology, the clinic also offers other expanded services, including eye care, podiatry, dermatology, a resident pharmacist, video conferences and appointments.