CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It has been around for just a short time, but in that time hundreds of Coastal Bend veterans are skipping the wait to get health care, opting instead for urgent care.

It's part of a new Veterans Administration program called MISSION Act. It went into effect just last month and is already gaining popularity.

Simply put, MISSION Act gives veterans access to high quality care at VA facilities virtually through Telehealth. It also goes a step further and makes healthcare accessible in our community, meaning vets get the care and services needed where and when they need them by turning to urgent care clinics.

"It kind of expands the VA health care somewhat so it gives them that opportunity, and also for the prescription side too," said Martin Longoria, Nueces County Veteran Service Officer.

Longoria said so far there are 11 participating urgent care clinics within a 100-mile radius of Corpus Christi, each one available to veterans who are already part of the VA health system.

"The urgent care clinics have to be part of the VA network because if they're not, the veteran is going to incur a monetary bill from that urgent care clinic for whatever services they provide," Longoria said.

Participating urgent care centers are located in the Corpus Christi inner city all the way to outlying areas as far as Kingsville, Beeville and Victoria.

"As of the very first day that the law changed for the veterans -- we had not even been notified yet -- tens of thousands calls coming into all of our facilities," said Susan Reilly, practice manager of Promptu Immediate Care.

Promptu Immediate Care has two locations in Corpus Christi.  Reilly said the process to get medical attention is relatively simple.

"They just have to be eligible for VA benefits and so they have to come in, just let us know that they are a VA patient. They usually don't have an insurance card but we have the information where we're able to call and verify their eligibility very quickly at their time of service, so we can get them in immediately," Reilly said.

If you are already registered with the VA for health benefits, you're set. If not, you can go online to their website or you can contact Longoria at Nueces County Veteran Services.

If you or someone you know needs help registering, the Department of Veterans Affairs will be hosting a special meeting at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 13, at Del Mar College's Center for Economic Development.

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