Veterans advocates -- and this community -- have had to claw and scratch to save the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center. And then they had to battle to get the federal government to live up to its responsibility and provide first-class care for veterans.
It is all paying off as Congress has given the OK to build a new outpatient clinic on the VA grounds.
Still, considering the history, we weren't about to start doing the end-zone celebration. Victory won't be certain until construction begins (maybe even completed).
But the awarding of a $23 million contract to build the clinic is a significant step in bringing this important project to fruition. Construction is expected to begin this spring.
The West Coast arm of Chicago-based Walsh Construction has the green light to build the 70,000-square-foot, two-story clinic.
"This new clinic is a badly needed addition to this facility that will enable us to offer the best possible care for our area veterans," said Brian Westfield, director of the local VA.
The addition of the clinic is a critical step in the quest to upgrade care in Walla Walla.
The new outpatient building will include a connection to the building that currently houses specialty care and other offices.
The 88-acre VA campus is centrally located, and has enough space, to provide a great many medical services for veterans in Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, Idaho and even Montana.
When the new, state-of-the-art clinic is built it will serve as a solid centerpiece for expansion of services. Our nation's veterans have earned the medical care the federal government is now on the cusp of providing.