TONASKET – Veterans Service Officer Shane Barton has moved his office to the recently-completed building at the U.S. Armed Forces Legacy Project site on the south end of Tonasket.
Barton, whose first day at the new location was Monday, Oct. 15, said that the new location provides him with a lot more space and in conjunction with the Legacy Project will make it easier for him to provide some supplemental services to veterans.
“There’s a lot more privacy,” Barton said. “At the hospital, it was sometimes a little difficult when you got a hallway full of people, or someone would walk into the office while I was sitting there talking to someone about something pretty private. It’s very nice.”
In addition to helping veterans get access to VA services, the new building features a small library, a computer and phone.
“People will be able to check books out, and eventually we’ll have movies and DVDs,” Barton said. “We’re hoping to get a TV in here in case people don’t have one at home, and we’re very excited about the oral history computer.
“We’re also looking to get a second computer in here in case they want to go online and look for or apply for jobs or social assistance programs. Basically we want to make this an all-access place, because a lot of people don’t have internet or phones.”
Barton said he will be making another push to educate veterans on available services once the Tonasket VA Clinic has all of its providers “up and running.”
“Pretty soon we should have three full-time VA providers and one part-time, and we’ll be hiring a couple of more RNs,” he said. “The log-jam isn’t as bad as it was. We want to be sure they’re all set up and running and make sure they can handle the influx of veterans once we start getting out there and promoting it more.
“The last time we did a radio spot, the receptionists got overwhelmed.”
Barton emphasized that most services found at the larger VA hospitals are available at the Tonasket clinic.
“Some people are a little standoffish about the VA, and some people are misinformed about it,” he said. “Some people believe we can’t do the same stuff here as at a regular VA hospital, which just isn’t the case We can do just about everything, save for some specialized surgeries, but everything else we can certainly do here.”
Barton said that the main hoop to jump through involved verifying that adequate security was in place.
“Getting the security approved was a big deal,” he said.
Barton’s office hours are unchanged: 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. The new office does have a new phone number: (509) 486-2121.
There will be an open house at the new facility on Saturday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.