• St. Johns County vets question VA clinic move

    By: Brittany Jones


    ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - The St. Johns County Veterans Affairs clinic is now on the clock to find a place to serve local veterans like Robert Dinkins.

    "I've talked to people here and no one really seems to know what's going on, there's no information at all," said Dinkins. 

    Dinkins is frustrated, like many other veterans who depend on the facility for health services.

    The county recently sold the building to Lowe's. Action News found out the entire building will be completely demolished in about nine months. The county's health department and VA clinic must now move.

    Dinkins said he and other veterans have asked the VA questions about the move, but haven't gotten any answers.

    "People like to know what the future is down the road and right now it's unknown, in which people aren't comfortable with," said Dinkins. 

    Dinkins said veterans will have to travel outside of the county to see a physician.

    "Some of these people can't. They don't have the transportation, they don't have the means to do that," said Dinkins.

    The county spokesperson, Michael Ryan, said the VA found out the building was going to be sold in 2011.

    Action News found out the building was officially sold in March 2013 and all services in the building must vacate by March of next year.

    The plan was to move health services and the VA clinic to the new $12 million facility that's now under construction.

    "We notified them from day one that they had the opportunity to do so," said Michael Ryan.

    Action News obtained several letters between the VA and the county.

    The letters said the VA declined to move to the new building because the building is out of their service area.

    "It's our understanding the Veterans Administration is currently exploring alternative locations and our hope is that they will find one and continue services to our veterans," said Ryan. 

    Action News left several voicemails for the VA, but none of our calls were returned. But not knowing the plans, and with time not on their side, Dinkins hopes the VA will provide answers soon.

    "We shouldn't become a burden, but we should become a responsibility and respect our services," said Dinkins.

    The county said if the VA occupies the building after Mar. 31. 2015, they will be faced with a fine for more than $50,000.

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