Remembering Congressman Jones’ fight for VA access in eastern Carolina

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As people pay their respects to Congressman Walter B Jones, 9 On Your Side is reflecting on some of the lasting impacts he had on eastern North Carolina. 

During his time serving the 3rd Congressional District, Jones fought to expand Veterans Affairs throughout the area. 

Jones lobbied in Congress to bring a medical home to veterans in the East. 

“I can’t tell you how many people have called this Walter’s building because of his advocacy,” said Jonathan Forte, administrator for the Greenville Veterans Affairs Healthcare Center. 

Healthcare for veterans is one thing Congressman Walter B. Jones fought for. 

“He sponsored and cosponsored more veteran legislation than any other member of congress,” said Forte. “Without his support, this Greenville HCC and where we are sitting right now wouldn’t be here.”

Jones lobbied in Congress to build the center, which opened in 2014.

“This has been a journey that has been evolving,” Jones said at the time. “We got more and more veterans coming to ENC, moving here.”

“When we opened, we served about 8,000 veterans, and currently, we serve approximately 20,000 veterans in 13 counties throughout eastern North Carolina,” Forte said. 

Forte said prior to the center opening, many veterans had to travel to Durham’s VA center to receive care. 

“We did have a smaller outpatient clinic across the street, but for special care and minor procedures, they had to travel an hour and a half west to the Triangle,” Forte said. “Here, they have a medical home in the East.”

Forte said it is an honor to continue Jones’ legacy of caring for veterans in the East.

“We have been given a sacred trust to ensure that veterans continue to receive the care that they earned and deserved,” Forte said. “That was so important to him, and that is so important to me.” 

At the center, veterans receive service such as specialty care, dental care and primary care just to name a few. 

The center sees 800 veterans a week and continues to grow. 

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