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Statesboro VA clinic's 10th anniversary celebrates Ray Hendrix's life of service

Sisters Jennifer Kimbrell and Diane Long chatted with Grice Connect’s Jeneane Brown to give an update on the thriving VA clinic that their father, veteran Ray Hendrix, started over ten years ago.

The Ray Hendrix Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic, which was renamed for its crusader in 2019, celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. The first VA clinic in Statesboro, this facility provides quality and convenient local care to veterans of Bulloch and surrounding counties. 

Diane Long, one of Hendrix's three children, remarks on the positive feedback from the community about the clinic.

“Everyone that I have spoken with that uses the clinic has been very pleased with it and so thankful that it’s here,” she said.

Prior to the Ray Hendrix VA Clinic, veterans had to travel a minimum of an hour and a half for care in Augusta or Dublin. Many could not manage this trip for a variety of reasons. Another of Hendrix's daugthers, Jennifer Kimbrell, explains that her father’s goal of having an option in town has been life-changing for veterans in our community, especially veterans who are disabled. 

“His goal was to have it here so that Statesboro could become a hub for the patients that had difficulty getting to the other places; therefore, their health was being compromised in many cases due to the logistics,” Kimbrell explains.

Robert Ray Hendrix joined the Army National Guard in 1949 then mobilized the following year and served in Europe during the Korean Conflict, and retired in 1992, serving 42 years, with Command Sgt. Major being his highest rank.

Her sister, Diane, agrees. “The fact that they can come to a local facility and not have to travel is pretty big.”

Ray Hendrix was part of the Army National Guard and served during the Korean Conflict. He worked as a recruiter and retired after 42 years. He won many awards for his service over the years and continued to work tirelessly during his retirement to support and champion for veterans. 

“He spent many, many years - my entire adult life - advocating for veterans in multiple ways, through local legislature, through state legislature, and also nationally. He actually served on our State Veterans Board and was the chairman for many years and his goal the whole time was to provide services for veterans,” Kimbrell says. 

The clinic began as a tele-health facility in 2013 and has utilized cutting-edge technology since its opening, initially using it to send real-time images to the doctors in Augusta. They serve nearly 1,800 veterans and provide a variety of services. Lara Birdsong, charge nurse of the clinic, is the sole original employee of the Ray Hendrix VA Clinic. She explains the growth the clinic has had in its first decade of operation.

“We actually started to grow so fast that we needed to have providers on site. We have two providers here now. We still offer some tele-health: we do tele-audiology, and there’s a tele-mobility/physical therapy clinic so that patients don’t have to drive all the way to physical therapy up in Augusta to be able to learn how to use a walker and then have to turn around and drive all the way home. So now we can do those things here.” 

In addition, they provide tele-urology, tele-derm, and tele-retinal services for their patients. “It saves a lot of these elderly veterans a lot of unneeded trips,” Birdsong says.

The staff at the clinic serve a handful of patients who travel from out of state to experience the one-on-one care and rapport that the Statesboro location provides. They develop a bond with the patients they see daily, which number anywhere from 12 to 16 patients. 


The clinic also gives patients access to an on-site social worker. Birdsong, who participates in Honor Flight, a national organization that takes veterans to the memorials in Washington, DC, discusses the support that is available to veterans in our community.  “Vet to Vet is a helpful peer group. They go and do things; they go out to eat. I know one time we all went to the range at Georgia Southern. Another time we went to the Georgia Southern baseball game. Vets help other vets.”

She fondly remembers Mr. Hendrix as a regular fixture at the clinic. 

“He would come in and sit in the lobby just to make sure that vets were treated with respect when they came in. He came to visit too, but you knew in the back of your mind that he was watching. He wanted to make sure that the clinic was running like it should. He made sure that it ran without a hitch and he wanted to make sure people were treated like they should be treated.”

Kimbrell appreciates that her father had the distinction of being a recipient of the clinic’s services, especially given that he crusaded for many decades to see his dream come to fruition.

“Once we found out that the clinic was coming, we wanted so badly for him to live long enough to see it open and for him to actually be a patient there and he was.”

“He was the first patient, and my husband was the second,” Long adds.

Rep. Rick Allen with Hendrix's wife Mary at the name dedication ceremony for the clinic in 2019

The Ray Hendrix VA Clinic continues to thrive, so much so that they are looking to expand to a larger facility. Just as it was during Mr. Hendrix’s selfless life, the sky is the limit for the future of the clinic that bears his name. 

For more information about the Ray Hendrix Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic, please visit their website at

Read more about Ray Hendrix's life in his obituary here.