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Veteran town halls 'a great venue' for patient, staff interaction at VA

Jonathan Roberts • Nov 6, 2019 at 7:04 PM

It’s been a long journey around the country for Kirk Leopard, but the new Mountain Home National Cemetery director sees Johnson City as his final stop.

“This is seventh national cemetery that I’ve been in charge of and I love it here,” Leopard said before first appearance as director at a veterans town hall Wednesday. “The community is awesome, the place is beautiful — I feel very blessed to be here.” 

Wednesday’s event gave Leopard an opportunity to talk with veterans and explain their benefits now, while they’re still able to make preparations for their passing, rather than working to move through the process when a family is grieving and “in a time of need” — relieving a lot of the burden on families. 

“Being able to help the veteran now relieves a lot of burden at the time of need,” Leopard said. “At the time of need, families are upset and it’s hard to think straight sometimes, if they can get some of (the preparations) done beforehand, it makes for a much less stressful time for them.” 

Colleen Noe, Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home associate director, said the quarterly town hall’s are “a great venue” for the center to introduce new staff to patients. 

“Town halls give us a wonderful opportunity to bring our leadership and our service leadership to our patients,” Noe said. 

Noe also talked about the importance of having so many resource booths, like Leopard’s, available for the veterans to ask questions or get help in a less formal, more compact and simpler way. 

The resource booths have “been a great addition,” Noe said. “Sometimes it’s not the easiest thing to navigate through the VA system, so when you have all the resources in one room and get all your questions answered at one time, it just makes for a better experience for the veteran.” 

Wednesday’s town hall was the VA’s final planned one for 2019, though they’re expected to return in February. 

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