Nearly 6,000 Missourians, including about 1,600 rural veterans, want service expanded at the Salem Veterans Clinic in south central Missouri. They want the facility’s doors open five days a week, instead of the current three days a month.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri)

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri)

The supporters have signed a petition that Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D-Missouri) office has delivered to the Veterans Affairs Under Secretary of Health.

“Those hours need to be expanded and we have talked directly to the director of the Pershing VA Medical Center, which manages the smaller Salem clinic. She has said she is hoping she can extend the clinic hours as early as December,” says McCaskill.

The Salem clinic is the only VA facility in Missouri not regularly open five days a week.

“I think it’s a matter of being able to bring doctors and medical personnel in for a few days a month,” says McCaskill. “The reason it began was to try to do a better job of serving veterans but I think they underestimated the need.”

In a letter from McCaskill to Under Secretary David Shulkin, she says she’s concerned the clinic’s restricted hours could hinder rural veterans from enrolling into the VA healthcare system. Missouri has nearly 200,000 rural veterans.

McCaskill has not heard back from Shulkin yet, but she says conversations continue with VA officials in Washington and in Missouri.