The Veterans Action Coalition of Southwest Louisiana has started a petition to name Lafayette’s VA clinic in honor of the veteran who led the charge to secure the new facility.
Rodney C. Hamilton, Sr. was the founder and chairman of the group. He passed away in November 2020.
Hamilton, a Purple Heart recipient, and Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War, worked for years to get the Veterans Administration to build a new community-based outpatient clinic in Lafayette.
“It was his dream that veterans should be taken care of, the way they should be taken care of,” said Deron Santiny, who now co-chairs the coalition.
“Fortunately, the efforts paid off, so no better name should be on this building than Rodney Hamilton,” said Santiny. “ Because of his efforts, so many veterans are being taken care of much better than they were before.”
Before the new clinic opened in 2016, there was a smaller facility in Lafayette that offered limited services.
“We often had to travel far, and that was an issue,” said Bill Goforth, who co-chairs the coalition. “I sat there one day with a two o’clock appointment and decided after five o’clock I was leaving. That’s just the way that old clinic worked. This [new facility] is so much better.”
Hamilton’s impacts go beyond Lafayette. Working with then-Congressman Charles Boustany, Hamilton was able to change congressional rules for funding VA clinics.
“They built 27 clinics and Rodney is responsible for that,” said Goforth. “He started this movement.”
The name change would require action from congress and the President’s approval. We reached out to Congressman Clay Higgins, who released this statement.
“We are dedicated to our Veterans and their families. I’ve researched Mr. Hamilton's history, and he was an amazing American Patriot. I certainly understand the passion behind the initiative, and I deeply respect everyone involved. My office would appropriately lead legislation to rename the Lafayette VA clinic if there was widespread community and Veterans’ support behind a single individual. I serve We, the People.”
“I think it’s probably a fitting tribute to him,” said Goforth. “ Because he was the hero in this story.”
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