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The grand opening ribbon was cut April 13 at the Pike County VA Center by (l-r) Georgia Department of Veterans Service executive director of field operations and appeals Shelly-Ann Simpson, VA director of lease executions Rudy Clemons, Congressman Drew Ferguson, Atlanta VA Health Care System director Ann Brown, veteran Edward Nixon Jr., Atlanta VA regional office director Anthony Milons and Pike County VA clinic site manager Rutledge Davis.

VA celebrates local heroes at event

The Pike County VA Clinic recently held an official ribbon cutting ceremony, reception and offered clinic tours and PACT Act screenings for veterans and members of the community as well as members of the team who helped build the clinic in Zebulon. The Pike County school band took part by playing the National Anthem and American Legion Post 197 presented the nation’s colors during the formal dedication ceremony.

“Today is about team work and a team effort and everyone coming together to help out nation’s veterans,” said Atlanta VA Health Care System director Ann Brown. “This clinic greatly improves quality care for more than 15,000 veterans in the area. Our goal is to offer the best care anywhere.”

Brown said the ceremony was a chance to showcase services some may not be aware are available to the nation’s veterans, including those under the PACT Act which is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances.

“We can not do enough fast enough in providing services for our veterans. They and their families have sacrificed so much for us to live in the country we live in today,” said VA director of lease executions Rudy Clemons. “My dad was in WWII, my brother was in Vietnam and he is currently being serviced by the VA as he battles cancer. Without the VA, he would not be here today. The veterans are the ones we should be thanking today and every day.”

The ribbon cutting ceremony included a special clock plaque that was dedicated to local veteran Edward Nixon Jr. who was the center’s first patient and included a clock because of his belief that “if you’re on time, you’re five minutes early.”

Many veterans were celebrated inside the special center as they and community members got to take tours of the facilities and veterans learned about the services offered. Michael Ballard lives in Griffin and he served in Iraq from 1989 to 1993 where he had his back broken during service. He returned home and had a motorcycle wreck that claimed both his legs and one of his arms but he does not let that slow him down a bit and with the help of VA services, he is extremely active.

“This VA Center is a blessing and I love it. I’ve always gotten very good service and it saves me from driving so far for appointments,” he said.

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