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Area veterans got the chance Friday to kick the tires on a new tool in the Veterans Affairs arsenal.

A mobile vet center visited the Chattanooga Vet Center for the first time.

"That's going to help out a lot of guys who otherwise wouldn't know what they should get," said Bruce Branum, a Vietnam veteran and Ringgold, Ga., resident.

The converted RV houses satellite communications, video-conference links and a direct line to records and services in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nationwide there are 50 centers in service, and officials dispatched four after the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.

The centers offer immediate first-responder counseling services and are equipped to handle medical emergencies, said David Scott Meece, who coordinates 10 of the RVs for the Gulf Coast region.

For Friday's demonstration in Chattanooga, Mr. Meece drove the mobile vet center down from Johnson City, Tenn., where it is housed.

In Johnson City, the RV is used for outreach work by going into rural areas to help veterans access services that they otherwise would have to travel hours to find, he said.

Michael Bearden, team leader at the Chattanooga Vet Center, said he requested that mobile center personnel come down and is working to have regular visits that will allow area veterans to access records, services and benefits, especially in rural areas.

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