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North Florida Congressman To Hold Hearing Over St. Johns County VA Clinic Relocation

St. Johns County Veterans' Outpatient Clinic
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

A Department of Veterans' Affairs medical clinic in St. Johns County will be the focus of a congressional hearing Thursday.

District 6 Congressman Ron DeSantis is holding the hearing to explore why it’s taken so long to move the county’s VA clinic.

St. Johns County Veterans Council Chairman Bill Dudley says he’s been in near-constant contact with DeSantis’s office as the county has negotiated with the federal Veterans Administration.

“The thing that has probably angered the veterans, and certainly angered people who have had to deal directly with the VA on this, is the lack of transparency,” Dudley said.

Dudley says the county expected the veterans’ outpatient clinic to relocate to a new county building after it sold the building’s land years ago.

But when the VA refused to move there, he says VA leadership in Gainesville failed to give satisfactory answers as to why not. Now, veterans have to go one place to sign up for benefits and a different place for medical care.

“That veteran who doesn’t have transportation now has to take two bus trips or two taxi trips or get a friend to drive him to two different locations,” Dudley said.

The relocation delay is also costing the nation’s taxpayers thousands of dollars each month for fines the VA must pay.

The congressional hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP