New VA clinic opens in Walla Walla

New VA clinic opens in Walla Walla »Play Video
WALLA WALLA, Wash. - The ribbon was cut on a brand new Veterans Affairs clinic in Walla Walla Tuesday. It includes the latest in health care technology.

Costing tens of millions to build, the clinic almost didn't happen at all.

Veterans now have a place to be treated extensively in our region. The VA clinic just underwent a $70 million overhaul.

"A lot of our employees are veterans, and a lot of our employees use this facility," said Army Maj. Kurt Nelson.

Nelson is still serving his country. He's spent time in Germany, Afghanistan and Iraq. Now he works with the Army Corps Of Engineers. The major came to see the ribbon cut on this state-of-the-art facility.

It offers much more than what was here before. Minor surgeries will be provided. There's a dedicated center for women's health. The physical rehab facility was expanded to include real-life scenarios. The VA center also expanded its drug rehab facility and added to mental therapy care.

For about seven years, it wasn't even certain there would be a center in Walla Walla. Funding was being cut, and this place was on the chopping block.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray was key in securing the money needed to keep the center running. She serves on the Committee for Veterans Affairs.

"Every conversation from here to Washington D.C., no one was going to leave veterans in this community out to dry," Murray said.

If not for this facility, veterans would have to travel across the state or to Spokane to receive care. That includes those who are disabled.

Maj. Nelson said, "The burden of having to travel to one of these locations is just unwarranted. I think it's great that it's right here where they have access to it."

That access is now open in Walla Walla.

The VA center will add care for dental, hearing and optical needs within the next year.