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Vets travel pay a big loss
Canandaigua, N.Y. -- The VA Medical Center stopped giving travel reimbursement for veterans going to the open access gym and the pool in January.
Marine Corps veterans Gene Simes and Thomas Pridell said it's a big loss for veterans who cannot afford to pay for gas.
"That little bit that helps them get the gas to get there means a whole lot," Simes said.
"These veterans, I'd say most of them suffer from PTSD," said Pridell. "It's difficult for us to communicate to someone who hasn't been there and done it."
Dozens of veterans found the support they needed at the center's pool.
"It's a relaxing social event on top of an aquatic therapy and exercise program," said Pridell. "All of it combined is a wonderful thing."
A spokesperson with the VA Medical Center told 13WHAM veterans were no longer qualified to receive "beneficiary travel reimbursement" once the fitness center became open access.
It means veterans can choose to go to the fitness center as they please.
"By doing that the VA was then able to say that the attendees of that program no longer benefited for the travel pay," Pridell said.
The VA Memorial Center spokesperson also said staff at the fitness center will be spending more time offering instruction and guidance to veterans.
Simes and Pridell said dozens of veterans who relied on the reimbursement can no longer afford to go to the pool and gym.
Veterans still receive travel pay when going to scheduled appointments for care at the center.