WILDWOOD — On May 12, 2017, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced the appointment of Vincent Kane as director of the agency’s Wilmington, Delaware, medical center.
The following day, in answer to questions from veterans at American Legion Post 184, Kane said the meeting was to get feedback on plans to set up a new medical clinic in Cape May County. Currently, veterans seeking care in the county are directed to a double-wide trailer on the U.S. Coast Guard base in Cape May.
“The Coast Guard base clinic has been there for almost 20 years,” said Kane, who has worked for the VA for 18 years. “It has kind of outlived its usefulness. When you look at Cape May County, it has not been well served by the VA.” He said he is waiting on approvals from VA leadership in Washington before he can start a competitive bidding process to build a clinic. The facility could open by early 2019, Kane said.
About 20 veterans attended the information session and they grilled Kane about psychiatric care, local health services and the potential new clinic. “Most of us in this room have been listening to the same spiel for 15, 20 years,” said Johnnie Walker, of the Disabled American Veterans. “We want to give Mr. Kane the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity,” Walker added after the meeting. “I think things are changing” for the better.
Harry Weimar, who has led rallies calling on the VA to provide better care to veterans in Cape May County and to veterans affected by the Agent Orange herbicide used in Vietnam, was cautiously optimistic about a new clinic. “I believe it will happen, but it will take a long time,” said Weimar, commander of the American Legion post.
Kane said no decisions have been made about the location of the new clinic.
A similar meeting with veterans is scheduled for 2 p.m. July 15 at the Cape May County Police Academy in Cape May Court House.
The Wilmington VA Medical Center also oversees clinics in Atlantic and Cumberland counties. Kane oversees care for about 30,000 veterans with an operating budget of more than $224 million, according to a press release.