Hallelujah, our veterans are done waiting

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Denver, Colo.-, August 5, 2018 | comments

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center is finally open. The new facility, part of the VA Rocky Mountain Network (VISN-19), will serve about 400,000 Veterans in Colorado and approximately 600,000 Veterans from Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma and portions of Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada and North Dakota.

For more than two decades and through four presidential administrations and eleven VA Secretaries, Rocky Mountain Veterans have waited for a new facility to replace the aging Denver hospital which was overcrowded and could not fully serve the healthcare needs of today’s Veterans.

There is no denying this project had its ups and downs and fits and starts. We all know them. But it wasn’t one person, one agency, or one group responsible for finishing this project.  It was our entire community which came together to form an unbeatable team to persevere through thick and thin and deliver this facility for our veterans. We are here today because of the tireless advocacy and persistence of so many veterans, the United Veterans Committee of Colorado, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the construction contractors, the VA medical staff here in Colorado, and so many more. This team never lost sight of who this project was for and everyone worked long and hard to ensure it became a reality.

The beginning of patient care marks a new chapter in this project and for veteran's care in the Rocky Mountain region. This replacement facility is critically important to care for our growing veteran population. And it is time for us to look forward, not backward, and celebrate this achievement together. We now have a world-class facility that is open and ready to serve more than a million veterans in Colorado and across the Rocky Mountain region.

With the opening of the Spinal Cord Injury & Disorders Clinic early next year, this facility will be one of only 25 in the country with services to meet service-specific rehabilitation needs of veterans with spinal cord injuries. These services include therapy pools, an outdoor courtyard to help veterans learn how to use a wheelchair on various surfaces, and patient rooms designed to help newly-disabled veterans heal and become self-sufficient. This clinic was a driving force behind the new facility, and I’m confident it will serve our veterans well.

Opening this facility is not the end of our work though. There are still going to be challenges veterans face across the region, and we need to keep working together to solve these problems. That work starts with making sure operations at the new facility deliver the high-quality services veterans deserve as well as getting a PTSD clinic built on the campus as quickly as possible. The clinic was included in the initial proposal and is a promise we must keep to our veterans. Our growing veteran population will also mean new demands for primary care and mental health which we must deliver.

But today as this new, beautiful facility becomes fully operational, I want to remember those who truly made this day happen. Many of the same men and women who fought for our country showed the same determination and passion for getting this project completed. Our country is forever indebted to you, as is our state and future generations of veterans across the Rocky Mountain region. Thank you.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat, represents Colorado’s 7th Congressional District.

Content was originally published by the Denver Post on August 5, 2018.
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