Marion to get new rehab center for Vets

Marion to get new rehab center for Vets
By: Arnold Wyrck
MARION, Ill. - The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken the lives of thousands of our soldiers.  But unlike any war in our nations history more and more men and woman are surviving their injuries on the battlefield.  And now some of those soldiers returning home to the Heartland are going to get the help they need to learn to live without some of their limbs, and deal with their mental anguish.
The help is coming in the form of a $3.9 million donation to the Marion VA Medical Center in Marion, Illinois.  The funds are being donated to the center from the Illinois AMVETS Service Foundation.

And it'll help build a state-of-the art care and rehab center on the center's current location. The new facilities will house a therapeutic aqua pool, resource center, mental health and prosthetics. "If you distribute the weight unequally, like when you're standing up.  You're good leg is going to take all the weight, and then you're going to develop hip problems.  So with the therapy pool we'll be able to train our veterans how to balance out their weight, by standing differently then they would by using their prosthetic.  So that's going to help them out tremendously," says Len Baumgartner Executive Director of Illinois AMVETS Service Foundation.

News of the upcoming specialty care and rehab center has many veterans who use the Marion VA regularly excited about the opportunities it offers them. "If it weren't here I don't think I could have done it on my own, no way," says Robert Rainey of Mount Vernon.

Rainey is Vietnam Veteran suffering from a disease that is destroying his joints. "I'm doing real good with it.  And I've been trying to get more mobile to lose more weight. And now they tell me I can get one of these walkers.  And I just walked about 50 feet here and she said I did real good.  So I'm really proud of myself," Rainey said.

He's also looking at getting strong enough to possibly go back to work, something he hasn't been able to do since 1998.

And the resource center could help him achieve that goal too. "This resource center is like education, job opportunities and compensated work therapy.  So it's an opportunity for our veteran's to come here and get services they could not get somewhere else.  It's going to be kind of a 'one-stop' shop for them," says Rebecca Shinneman of Marion's VA Medical Center.

A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for the first part of July, and completion of the new rehab and care center is expected to take approximately 18 months.