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New VA Outpatient Clinic will help 37,000 local veterans

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – It's a bill more than 60 years in the making. On Jan. 4, Congressman Joe Donnelly announced the expansion of the VA Outpatient Clinic in South Bend.

This expansion is going to make health care more accessible for the more than 37,000 veterans in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties.

Right now, the closest clinics are in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis- and those aren't easy trips to make when you're a disabled vet!

"They've been waiting for this since World War 2," said David Kriegel, a local navy veteran.

It's a wait that's cost Michiana veterans more than just their time.

"They put off  medical care because they don't want to drive that far," said Kriegel.

Kriegel doesn't need VA assistance, but instead, dedicates his time to driving his former comrades to the VA clinics in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

"It takes eight hours out of your day.  Two hours down and then the wait," said Kriegel.

"There's rows, just rows of seats and people just sitting in these seats," said Howard Wiseman, a local Vietnam Veteran. "[They're] waiting for their turn, waiting to get taken care of."

But it's a wait that's finally coming to an end.

"It has been a goal of mine to be able to look them in the eye and say, you wont' have to do this anymore," said Congressman Joe Donnelly. 

On Jan. 4, Congressman Donnelly announced the $6.7 million appropriation for the veterans' health facility in South Bend.

"The President of the United States signed the bill that provided the funds. So this is a done deal,"said Donnelly.

The 65,000 square foot facility will be about 10 times the size of the current South Bend clinic and offer expanded mental health care, laboratories, radiology, audiology and more!

These are all services that will not only help veterans, but the community as a whole.

"With this huge facility and hopefully an increase in medical personnel they'll just remain in this area and keep the money in this area for our medical professionals," said Kriegel. "So, everybody wins!"

For more information on the new VA clinic see the Press Release below.

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