The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Bellemont will be making a move to Flagstaff.
The clinic will settle into the old Sturner & Klein building on University Avenue in west Flagstaff near Harkins Theatres.
The building owners were awarded a lease with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, confirmed Dennis Kelly, commercial broker with Coldwell Banker Commercial in Flagstaff.
Ame Callahan, public affairs officer for the VA in Prescott, said that the clinic is expected to be operational in late November, but could possibly open earlier.
The space will be larger than the existing clinic in Bellemont, Callahan said, adding that the location in Flagstaff will likely result in an increase in enrollment. She also said the decision to move the clinic was based on veteran need and recommendation.
"It'll be easier access," said Billy Weldon, of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Veterans advocate Bob Reyes said an effort has been under way for better than 10 years to get a VA clinic in Flagstaff after the decision was made to put one in Bellemont.
"It's going to be a great move to get it to town finally," Reyes said.
The 11 miles to Bellemont is not manageable by some veterans, Reyes said, especially during the winter months and highway closures. With a clinic in town, the clinic will be accessible to veterans by the public transportation system. Also, veterans will no longer need to pass through the gates of the base at Camp Navajo to get to the clinic.
Additionally, the numbers of veterans to be served could increase with easier access to veterans on the Native American reservations.
"It'll help out a lot," Reyes said.
Weldon added that Veterans will also have an easier time coordinating appointments with the VA hospitals in Phoenix and Prescott.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. (Ret) C. Andrew Griffin, director of veterans affairs at NAU, said he had been told the move was going to be made.
"It can only help the veterans here," Griffin said. "I'm really excited about it."
With 250 student veterans at NAU, Griffin said that some find the trip to the clinic in Bellemont significant. The clinic in Flagstaff will make it easier for the veterans to receive medical help at no cost.
According to the city, 10,500 square feet of the building, located at 1300 W. University Ave., are scheduled for improvements.
Callahan said she did not know how much the cost would be for the repurposing of the new location. She added that the VA's partnership with Camp Navajo has been a positive one, and the savings the VA had by having the clinic at Camp Navajo would be offset by the convenience experienced by the veterans using the new location in Flagstaff.
The clinic, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, offers outpatient services to veterans in Coconino County that include:
-- Education, eligibility and enrollment;
-- Health maintenance, promotion and screening;
-- Mental health;
-- Management of acute and chronic diseases;
-- Routine/urgent care procedures (skin tests, dressing changes, immunizations);
-- Women's health.
The clinic in Bellemont is currently open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Appointments are necessary. Call (800) 949-1005, Ext. 7820, or (928) 226-1056.
Larry Hendricks can be reached at 556-2262 or email@example.com.