Originally created 05/15/04

American Legion president tours area veterans hospital



The head of one of the nation's largest women's service organizations stopped by an Augusta Veterans Administration hospital to see facilities serving local veterans.

"I'm so glad you're keeping your doors open," Katherine Morris, the president of the American Legion Auxiliary, said at her visit to the Augusta VA Uptown Division.

The Augusta visit was just one stop on a national tour of VA facilities, said Mrs. Morris, a Texas native whose husband served in the Korean War.

"I've been to a lot of VAs throughout the country this year ... and it does my heart good to see you here," she said.

A week after the VA released a report from its Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services Commission, not only sparing both Augusta VA hospitals but also expanding clinics and services, Mrs. Morris noted how other VA facilities were not so lucky in staying open.

"And I think about the elderly veterans who have to travel so far for help; that's not fair," she said. "That's why we're a free country today; their services to the country."

Mrs. Morris met with the director of the Augusta VA divisions, James Trusley III, and toured the facility's rehabilitation and psychiatric services.

Mr. Trusley and Dr. Thomas Kernan both praised the Legion and its Auxiliary, not only for the volunteer work they do but also for the research funds that they contribute.

"It's just phenomenal that a service organization supports research in this way," Mr. Trusley said.

Mrs. Morris also spoke about the changes that the VA will face in the future, as a new generation of war veterans require services.

"I got to visit with some of them," Mrs. Morris said. "If these young people are that brave, we've got to be brave enough to keep the doors of the VA open for them."

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.