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New VA clinic services RR-area vets

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Veterans in Rio Rancho, Sandoval County and West Side Albuquerque now have access to medical services closer to home.

The Northwest Metro VA Community Based Clinic at 1760 Grande Blvd., west of N.M. 528 between Sara Road and 19th Avenue, began offering services to patients on May 15.

The 10,000-square-foot clinic provides primary care, women’s health, dental, mental health, telemedicine and laboratory services, said Bill Armstrong, public affairs specialist for the New Mexico VA Health Care System.

The new faciliy is “awesome because now we don’t have to drive all the way into Albuquerque,” said Navy veteran Shane D’Onofrio, who lives in Rio Rancho.

He said he has had to cancel appointments at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Southeast Albuquerque because of the travel and waiting time involved.

D’Onofrio also runs a nonprofit organization that helps provide shelter, vocational training and job opportunities for veterans who have endured homelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder and drug and alcohol abuse. He said the new clinic will offer them a more convenient and less threatening experience than having to visit the main VA hospital.

Rio Rancho was slated in June 2008 by then-Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake as one of 44 sites nationwide identified for new VA clinics based on the distance veterans had to travel to an existing facility.

Armstrong estimated there were about 5,000 veterans scattered across the West Side, Rio Rancho and Sandoval County.

The Rio Rancho facility will be the 13th, and the largest, in the New Mexico VA system, which includes a contract clinic in Durango, Colo., Armstrong said.

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