Sen. McCain announces new program aimed to help Valley vets get medical care

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Sen. John McCain is looking to expand health care for veterans with the help of the Phoenix VA, CVS and the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

On paper, it looks like a really solid idea. There are 24 MinuteClinics inside CVS stores in the Phoenix metro area. The service allows veterans to see a nurse practitioner for common illnesses and injuries. Their visit would then be sent to the VA for follow ups.

The Phoenix VA partnership program with CVS MinuteClinic is already getting a thumbs up from some veterans, like Gerald Freeman.

"I do like that idea. I don't care who comes up with it, it's going to help," he said.

Freeman came here to the Phoenix VA hospital for his appointment on a city bus, but if he could have gone to a MinuteClinic, it would have been much easier.

It would have saved me about two hours travel time," he said.

On Tuesday, with the help of Arizona Senator John McCain, CVS Drugs and the Phoenix VA, they announced the roll out of the pilot program at a CVS MinuteClinic in Tempe. Getting vets better health care options is key.

"Allowing them to visit their CVS MinuteClinic not only insures they receive immediate treatment for routine care such as flu shots, filing medication prescriptions, but will alleviate wait times at Phoenix VA," said McCain.

120,000 veterans who already belong to the Veteran's Administration Choice program can now be sent to one of 24 CVS MinuteClinics for medical treatment when they call for minor illnesses and injuries.

Army veteran James McKinley says he hopes it works and it does send a sign of hope that veterans haven't been forgotten, and the government is at least trying to address the problem.

"At least they're trying to fix whatever problems they do have, whether this succeeds or not, at least they're trying something," he said.

A similar service was also launched with the VA in Palo Alto, California last year.

Per the website, "Veterans who call the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center VA Help Line at 602 222-6550 or 888-214-7264 (toll free) can be referred to one of the 24 MinuteClinic locations in the Phoenix area for treatment of common illnesses." Increasing Access to Care for Phoenix Veterans