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Bob Dole Visits Veterans, Patients At Dole VA Center In Wichita

Hugo Phan

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole made the rounds at his namesake Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita Tuesday.

Dozens of veterans, patients and medical staff lined the hallways to greet newly appointed Col. Dole. President Donald Trump signed legislation Monday authorizing the honorary promotion of Dole from captain to colonel in the U.S. Army in honor of his service in World War II.

Dole thanked veterans for their service as he shook hands and made jokes.

The Dole VA Medical Center serves more than 30,000 veterans who live across Kansas and out of state.

Jerry Palmer, 74, made the trip from Kaw City, Oklahoma, to get medical care. He has been coming to the Dole Center for nearly 20 years. He was waiting for an appointment in an outpatient lab when Dole came through.

"It’s been excellent service every time I come up here," Palmer says. "I just drive up here from the country in Oklahoma, and there’s the senator from Kansas driving through. It was pretty fabulous."

Dole says he has never had a complaint about the Wichita hospital. About a third of the employees are veterans.

At 95, Dole wasn’t the oldest World War II veteran there: Two men, ages 102 and 98, shared their military stories with Dole in the coffehouse named for Dole’s 10th Mountain Division.

Dole also planned to visit Gov. Laura Kelly in Topeka.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.