DERRY — Jack Roche, 72, risked his life serving his country during the Vietnam War.
Now, he hobbles with a cane and awaits hip replacement surgery.
Roche requires frequent treatment from Veterans Administration hospitals in Manchester and Boston.
“I’m in Manchester all the time; I’m in Boston all the time,” said the Dover resident, who must travel more than an hour to each hospital. “It gets to be a drag.”
But the big problem is the VA hospital in Manchester isn’t a full-service medical facility, meaning Roche often has no choice but to go to Boston — if he can get there.
“You are out of luck if you have to go to Boston and don’t have a ride,” he said. “It’s a long way to Beantown.”
The Disabled American Veterans used to provide regular rides for veterans, but now offer fewer trips.
Roche said he isn’t eligible to receive VA-subsidized health care in his own community.
He was one of 11 veterans who gathered at MaryAnn’s Diner in Derry yesterday afternoon for a roundtable discussion with 1st District Congressman Frank Guinta, R-N.H.
The veterans, who were from around the state, told Guinta the federal government needs to pay more attention to their needs.
Among those in the audience were Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, and Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, who received a hearty hug from Guinta.
The first thing Guinta did when he walked into the restaurant was ask Baldasaro how he was feeling. Baldasaro suffered a heart attack a couple of weeks ago.
Guinta, who is running for re-election against former Democratic Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, listened as Roche and some of the other veterans told of the need for a full-service VA hospital in New Hampshire.
“I feel very strongly if you need the full-service VA hospital, you should have it,” Guinta said. “We are one of the few states who don’t have the full service.”