Aiken, World War II veterans remember D-Day on 75th anniversary 7 (copy)

World War II veterans Vernon Derrick, left, and Howard Neleigh pray during the D-Day 75th anniversary ceremony at Aiken County Veterans Memorial Park in Aiken on Thursday. The newly passed "Mission Act" would increases the amount of urgent care facilities veterans receive coverage from.

A new law that passed recently will give qualifying veterans better access to urgent care in local health care facilities. 

The U.S. Office of Veterans Affairs implemented the Mission Act on June 6. The act primarily seeks to increase health care coverage for veterans by allowing them to seek medical care using their VA coverage with non-VA providers.

A special provision of the act would increase area veterans' access to urgent care facilities for minor injuries and illnesses, such as strep throat, pink eye or the flu.

According to a VA press release, this is meant to increase "convenience" for veterans seeking health care for these issues, as they would not need prior authorization from the VA to visit urgent care facilities.

In November 2018, Director of Aiken County Veteran Affairs Dwight Bradham submitted a request to Aiken County Council that the Charlie Norwood VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic be tested as a same-day urgent care facility as part of a pilot program. The Aiken clinic provides urgent care and mental health services to veterans.

Bradham was told that the opening of an urgent care facility for veterans in Augusta was meeting needs in the CSRA, but there were concerns with the drive for those in Aiken and limited parking at the facility.

Bradham said the Mission Act "absolutely" addresses a need for such services in the Aiken County area.

"Veterans get care close to home, the local economy gets a boost, VA minimizes wait times and potentially avoids long waits for services at their medical centers," Bradham said.

That is why, he claims, the Mission Act is a "win for everyone."

"Through the Mission Act Urgent Care program, eligible Veterans can be seen closer to their homes, get the care they need to recover and get back to living quality lives," said Bradham in an email. "Aside from paying co-payments, the program will cover their non-emergent needs with minimal costs, but, with the program paying directly to the local care providers, it infuses income into our local economy."

To be eligible for coverage with this program, veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system and have received care through VA from either a VA or community provider within the past 24 months.

Urgent Care facilities in Aiken County that are involved with this program include:

Doctors Care North Augusta: 520 Knox Ave., North Augusta

Minuteclinic: 101 Edgefield Road, North Augusta

Minuteclinic: 2062 Whiskey Road 

Doctors Care Aiken: 850 Aiken Mall Drive

Doctors Care North Aiken: 1029 York St. N.E.

For more information, visit missionact.va.gov.

Kristina Rackley is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard.