WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It has been a project more than six years in the making. Today a ground breaking was held to mark the start of construction on a new Veteran Affairs super clinic in Wilmington.
The new clinic, which will sit on land near Wilmington International Airport, is much more than a building for veterans in southeastern North Carolina. This is a battle won. Many have spoken out for years on the need for this type of facility right here on the coast.
The new VA Multi-Specialty Outpatient Clinic is a a facilty many veterans like Mark Venters have waited years for.
"I'd like to be the first patient in here if possible," Venters said
Venters, a World War II vet, has been making frequent trips to Fayetteville the past couple of years for numerous health issues. The Wilmingtonian says it's difficult for him and his wife to travel to that medical center; but they have no option because that facility in Fayetteville is the closet one that can address his needs.
Come late 2012 this new VA clinic will allow Venters to avoid the nearly two-hour drive to Fayetteville.
"It's going to keep us from traveling on long trips," he said.
The multi-specialty clinic will provide primary, mental health, and specialty care for more than 10,000 veterans in our area. All will soon have access to services that were not available along the coast before.
"This clinic will give us the opportunity to bring closer to their home those services they had to travel a distance to," VA Medical Center Director Elizabeth Goolsby said.
Though Monday was just a ground breaking, Rep. Mike McIntyre, who pushed for this new clinic, says Monday's ceremony shows how much we appreciate our nation's heroes.
"We do care about our veterans, and they deserve nothing other than the very best," he said.
The new clinic will be more than eight times larger than the current clinic in Fayetteville with 85,000 square feet of space. It is expected to open late 2012 or early 2013.