FRENCH CAMP – Veterans in San Joaquin County will soon have a state-of-the-art facility to cater to nearly all of their healthcare needs.
On Monday Congressman Jerry McNerney announced at a press conference in French Camp that the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic – which he has long been lobbying for in Washington – was fully funded the 2016 omnibus bill that was passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama last week.
“With this funding, our veterans are virtually assured of having a facility in their community that will make it easier for them to access the health benefits they’ve earned. Construction on this clinic is long-overdue,” McNerney said in a statement. “Over the years, Rep. Jeff Denham and I have fought tireless and took every measure possible to secure funding for the project in the budget. I’m glad to see that Congress is finally making this important investment in the health and well-being of our veterans who will benefit once the project is completed.”
According to McNerney, the project – a 150,000 square-foot campus that will be built on a 52-acre parcel next to the existing San Joaquin General Hospital – will be overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and with the full-funding of congress only one small technicality needs to be ironed out before construction can begin.
He estimated that building would begin in January of 2017 and would take between two and three years to complete – a $139 million addition to the existing Department of Veterans Affairs network that will give veterans throughout the region a place closer to home that can address their healthcare concerns and needs.
And while San Joaquin County added a valuable asset with the primary care clinic as a part of the extended network operated by the VA hospital in Palo Alto, traveling all the way to the Bay Area for an appointment that wasn’t offered locally was more than just a hassle for veterans that needed the care.
Scott Halsey spoke on Monday of the time that McNerney offered to drive him to the clinic to see what an average veteran goes through just to see a doctor to tend to a medical issue – a trip that ended up taking more than nine hours from start to finish.
The announcement was applauded by local veterans groups and featured remarks by Tino Adame of Stockton’s American Legion Karl Ross Post 16, who also serves as the State Chairman of Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation for the national organization.
McNerney praised the work put in by Denham, a Turlock Republican, and used the effort as an example of parties reaching across the aisle to do the right thing for the brave men and women who donned the uniform in service of their country.
“Our veterans cannot, and should not, have to wait any longer to see the French Camp BOC completed,” Denham said in a statement. “I will not rest until I see this facility, which will serve thousands of Valley vets, built.”
Once completed the facility will include mental health, primary care, radiology, laboratory, pharmacy, audiology and speech pathology, dental, eye and prosthetics services for an estimated 87,000 veterans spread across San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Calaveras, Tuolumne and Amador Counties.
Now that the funding is in the budget, it’s up to the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees to allocate the funds listed in the bi-partisan spending bills in their respective project authorizations.