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Oswego VA Outpatient Clinic Opens

Cutting the ribbon to officially open the center are (in center) from left Charles Robbins Sr., James Cody, US Rep. Bill Owens, and Charles Robbins Jr. They are joined by Donna Kestner, left, Dorothy Benavidez, second from left and Sue Doan, right.
Cutting the ribbon to officially open the center are (in center) from left Charles Robbins Sr., James Cody, US Rep. Bill Owens, and Charles Robbins Jr. They are joined by Donna Kestner, left, Dorothy Benavidez, second from left and Sue Doan, right.

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego VA Outpatient Clinic celebrated the official opening of its new location Thursday.

A large crowd, the majority veterans, was on hand for the ceremony and ribbon cutting at the 437 State Route 104E, Oswego, facility.

It is about 4,000 square feet.

Rochelle Hummel, the registered dietitian at the site gives a tour to Joseph Kelly. They are standing in one of the clinic’s exam rooms.
Rochelle Hummel, the registered dietitian at the site gives a tour to Joseph Kelly. They are standing in one of the clinic’s exam rooms.

United States Congressman Bill Owens (23rd District) was the guest speaker.

Charles Robbins Sr., president and CEO of CR Associates, served as the master of ceremonies. He is a veteran of the Korean War.

“We operate approximately 30 contracts around the country with the VA. We’re the largest provider of services to the veterans,” said his son, Charles Robbins Jr., senior executive vice president.

They take care of about 50,000 veterans, he added.

The Oswego facility will take care of the needs of approximately 2,200 veterans, he said. It will provide basic primary care services such as X-rays and lab work.

John LaClair, the 2010 Fulton Veterans Council’s Veteran of the Year, leads the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
John LaClair, the 2010 Fulton Veterans Council’s Veteran of the Year, leads the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

“They are all enrolled here. It’s a dedicated facility. They are all under contract to the VA,” he explained. “Oswego Health was operating it. We have a good relationship with them. We have contracts with them for lab and X-ray.”

One of the reasons the facility was moved was to make it more centrally located, according to Owens.

“They’re serving around 2,100 veterans and they want to increase that number and make it more accessible and more modern, which I think is very important for veterans ranging from World War II all the way up to Iraq and Afghanistan,” the congressman told Oswego County Today.com

“This is the kind of facility we need to see created. We have a situation where we try to partner with the local hospitals. That’s very important, when you have these clinics and someone comes in who needs additional care, they can immediately be sent over to the hospital’s emergency room,” he continued.

Members of the Fulton Veterans Council salute during a portio of Thursday’s ceremonies at the Oswego VA Outpatient Clinic.
Members of the Fulton Veterans Council salute during a portio of Thursday’s ceremonies at the Oswego VA Outpatient Clinic.

“The VA up here is just outstanding,” Robbins Jr. said. “They are very hands-on; they get things done with us.”

“CR Associates is running many of our clinics around the country. And what we’re giving here in Oswego is just one way of showing appreciation for what our vets did for us,” said James Cody, the director of the Syracuse VA Medical Center/Clinics. “Quality health care and services is just one way we can say thank you for what they’ve done for us.”

Owens can trace his family’s military roots back to the Civil War; he had a great-grandfather who served on the Monitor.

US Rep Bill Owens speaks during the ceremony on Thursday.
US Rep Bill Owens speaks during the ceremony on Thursday.

“This is an example of getting things done,” he said of the facility.

Oswego Tourism Director Fred Crisafulli presented the congressman with a city pin on behalf of the mayor.

It is really important to have the clinic in Oswego County, note Donna Kestner, the Veterans Service Officer for Oswego County.

“We get a lot of good reports (about the care at the clinic),” she said.

William T. Shinnick, president of the Fulton Veterans Council, said at first there was a bit of concern by some about moving the clinic.

Jake Sullivan demonstrates his prowess with the rifle during a drill at the ceremony.
Jake Sullivan demonstrates his prowess with the rifle during a drill at the ceremony.

“But, I think the transition has gone smoothly. It’s a beautiful facility,” he said. “When someone calls about something, they help them right away; they’re right on the ball.”

Also taking part in the ceremony were John LaClair, the 2010 Fulton Veterans Council’s Veteran of the Year; Richard Brown, chief chaplain of the Syracuse VA Medical Center/Clinics; Sue Doan, senior state veterans counselor –NYS; Dorothy Benavidez, senior vice president CR Associates; Father Mortiz Fuchs, a World War II veteran and member of the Fulton Veterans Council; and the “F.R. Sussey Composite Squadron” of the Civil Air Patrol.