When the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs relocated Burlington County’s only VA outpatient clinic off Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to a new location in Evesham in 2016, many veterans applauded the move to the larger, more modern facility.
There was just one rub: Veterans had difficulty finding it.
While the clinic’s previous location on the sprawling military installation became more difficult for veterans to access after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the new site off Route 73 and Lincoln Drive was notoriously hard to locate.
“It’s tucked away in an indistinguishable office complex. For veterans driving there it can be really difficult to find, even with GPS,” said Evesham Deputy Mayor Heather Cooper. “We heard from a lot of veterans about the issue. We knew we had to do something to try to address the problem and eventually turned to the Freeholders to see if they could help.”
Cooper and Evesham Mayor Jaclyn Veasy spoke to Freeholder Director Felicia Hopson and Deputy Director Tom Pullion about the issue, and the two County leaders brought the matter to County Engineer Joseph Brickley, who arranged for the Public Works Department to create two new “way-finding” signs alerting motorists on Greentree Road and Lincoln Drive of the Clinic’s location nearby.
The new signs are larger and were installed in more conspicuous locations than signs than signs than previous signs.
While the County is unable to respond to every request it receives for highway signs, Hopson said the situation with VA Clinic was one she felt confident the County and its workers could help address.
“More than 5,200 veterans receive care at the clinic; helping them to safely locate it is the least we can do for the men and women who defended and sacrificed for all of us,” said Hopson, who serves as the Freeholders’ liaison for Veterans Affairs.
“We owe our veterans a debt that can never be fully repaid. We must always do what we can to ensure they are properly cared for,” Pullion added. “We’re grateful that Evesham’s Mayor and Council brought it to our attention and that we were able to help. This is another example of all levels of government working together in Burlington County to help one another and our residents, especially our veterans.”
The blue signs directing people to the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center were installed this summer. Evesham officials reported that they’ve been a big help for local veterans.
“It’s a real improvement. Now at least when you come down Greentree Road you know where to turn,” said Mayor Veasy. “We can’t thank the Freeholders enough for responding the way they did. Caring for veterans is so important and its gratifying to see things like this come about to help them. ”
Photo: Deputy Director Tom Pullion stands next to the new highway sign on Greentree Road with Evesham Deputy Mayor Heather Cooper and Evesham Councilwoman Patricia Hansen.