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Old soldiers look after their comrades

Update: December, 09/2017 - 09:00
Trần Văn Đồng, head of the clinic run by war veterans in Nha Trang City, checks a patient’s blood pressure. — VNA/VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

KHÁNH HÒA ؅— Retirement is the time for people to enjoy their lives, but a group of war veterans in the central province of Khánh Hòa want to devote their twilight years helping comrades in need.

The veterans have set up a health clinic to provide free check-ups, health counselling and medicine to fellow veterans who lack health insurance cards or are victims of agent orange.

Trần Văn Đồng, 75, head of the clinic, said most of its health workers had professional training and a lot of experience in health care. They were kind-hearted people and willing to work for no pay.  

Đồng said: “Coming back from the resistance war against the Americans, I understood the pain of my comrades who lost parts of their bodies in the battle. Returning to normal life, many people did not have health insurance cards and could not enjoy social policies.”

"I volunteered to join the war veteran’s health clinic to help my sick comrades. We are ready to support comrades who are in need,” he said, adding that some health workers at the clinics were themselves war invalids or victims of Agent Orange.

Dương Công Liên, 69, a former doctor at Military Hospital 87, said he joined the army in 1968. Twenty-seven comrades in his commune also joined the army at the same time, but half of them died in the war.

“I find myself lucky. This prompted me to do this job as soon as I retired. I will engage in this work as long as I have the strength,” he said.

Nguyễn Thành Ba, 59, a resident from Nha Trang city’s Phương Sài Ward, said he suffered diseases related to blood pressure and arthritis for many years. He couldn’t afford to go to the hospital for treatment as he had no health insurance card.

He was happy when introduced to a health clinic run by war veterans in Trần Quý Cáp Road in Nha Trang City.

"I have to work hard every day to make ends meet in spite of my illness. Every time I feel tired, I go to the clinic where doctors give me free medical check-ups and medicine," Ba said.

Nguyễn Thị Kim, 64, who resides in Phước Long Ward, said that, like Ba, he tried to work hard to support her family but couldn’t afford hospital treatment.

After receiving acupuncture from the clinic for a week, her backache had been relieved, she said.

Đồng said the clinic had given medical examinations and free medicine to more than 26,000 patients and provided counselling for another 5,000 since it was set up in 2007.

Every year, health workers at the clinic not only provide free medical services in Nha Trang City, but also organise many trips to support people living in remote and ethnic areas in Khánh Hòa Province, Đồng said.

In the last days of November, doctors at the facility went to Vạn Ninh District to assist local residents who were victims of  tropical storm Damrey.

Funding for the clinic came from kind-hearted donors and war veterans’ contributions, Đồng said. Looking to the future, he said he was less worried about procuring financial resources than he was about maintaining a qualified and dedicated staff.

“In reality, all health workers here are enthusiastic with the work, but they are getting older. It is not easy to find people who are dedicated and work with a volunteer’s spirit to replace the current staff,” he said.

Trần Văn Hạnh, chairman of Khánh Hòa Province’s War Veterans’ Association, said the association had co-ordinated with relevant agencies to call on people with expertise and enthusiasm to do volunteer work at the clinic.

He also said the association would rebuild the clinic’s quarters and purchase more equipment.— VNS

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