Years ago, after purchasing a major brand refrigerator in the Virgin Islands, I found myself in a situation well known to others. When the appliance needed warranty repair, a serviceman had to be flown over from Puerto Rico. No authorized serviceman was commissioned on the V.I.

Not a welcome bit of news when you found out he flew over once a week. Add to this aggravation: if a part was needed, you had to wait for his next visit. Being inconvenienced over a kitchen appliance is something we may not like, but it’s the price of island life. Annoying, but livable.

However, there is an ongoing situation for V.I. veterans that is not acceptable. When seeking medical appointments and care, Virgin Islands vets get the refrigerator treatment. Doctors are flown over from Puerto Rico at certain times each month. Many veterans, with extenuating medical conditions, have to fly to Puerto Rico for care. With the pandemic adding to this problematic situation, veterans are often between a rock and a wall.

With thousands of Virgin Islanders having served our country, there has to be a better way to serve them. Is it possible that one doctor, just one, be engaged in the Virgin Islands, to make their lives easier? Perhaps, if everyone with expertise in veterans’ affairs pooled their thoughts and abilities together, we can find a way. Veterans deserve no less than the best.

— Maria Ferreras is a longtime St. Thomas resident and community volunteer. She can be reached at