Clark County veterans at VA center during shooting

A driver and three veterans who receive services from the Clark County Veterans Office were at the Dayton VA Medical Center on Monday when a shooting occurred there.

“My first thought was to make sure our drivers and the people we had down there were safe. When I checked, they were all accounted for and safe,” said Cathy Wood, executive director of the Clark County Veterans Office.

The suspect, Neil R. Moore, 59, a Marine veteran, retired in late 2013 from the medical center. He is accused of shooting Paul Burnside, 61, during a struggle over the weapon, Dayton police said.

Moore has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and use of a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime.

The Clark County Veterans Office has transported 424 local veterans to the Dayton VA Medical Center so far this year, Wood said.

The office provides two trips to the facility each day. On Monday the morning vehicle was on the way back to Springfield and the afternoon van was at the facility.

Wood said she doesn’t think the shooting will impact the number of veterans who seek treatment at the facility.

“I don’t think it will have an affect going forward, but you just never know when these things are going to happen,” she said.

Local veterans said they, too, don’t think the shooting will keep veterans from going to the Dayton medical center.

But more needs to be done to keep veterans safe, they said.

Vietnam veteran and former Clark County Commissioner Roger Tackett visits the Dayton VA once per month for treatment. He also gets treatment at times at the veterans clinic in Springfield.

A bullet in Vietnam severed his spine and he uses a wheelchair.

He said he’s thankful that nobody was killed Monday, but he questions the impact the incident would have had on him if he were there at the time of the shooting.

“It’s certainly a tragic thing that something like that would happen, especially around veterans. … If I were there, it would have definitely brought back memories, especially about Vietnam,” Tackett said.

Tackett said he has received great treatment at the Dayton VA.

But still says that the facility and others nationwide need to increase security and provide all veterans adequate care.

Tackett recalled Jesse Huff committed suicide in 2010 on the steps of the Dayton VA.

He also mentioned reports about the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system where 40 patients may have died waiting for treatment. Media reports say the Phoenix facility had a secret waiting list.

“I just hope in the future more attention will be paid to veterans hospitals,” Tackett said.

Clark County Commissioner Rick Lohnes said he’s been treated at the Dayton VA several times since he retired from the U.S. Air Force.

Lohnes, who is also former commander of the Springfield Air National Guard Base, said his treatment at the facility has been excellent.

“It’s tragic that some guy decided to come out there and shoot at someone,” Lohnes said.

Lohnes said he doesn’t think the shooting will impact the number of veterans who use the facilities, but he is interested in seeing what the VA will do to prevent something like what occurred on Monday from happening again.

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