VA to build new facility in Mishawaka

Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced its plan to build a bigger and better community based outpatient clinic in St. Joseph County.

Approximately 8,500 veterans use the current facility, but the VA said it is not large enough to provide all the necessary services.

“We will have a larger clinic. We will have expanded services so that veterans in this area will be able to receive more care, closer to their community,” said Denise Deitzen, Director of the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System in a press conference Wednesday.

The VA will soon begin construction on a new, 71,000 square foot clinic in Mishawaka.

The facility will be located at the intersection of Trinity Place and Fir Road, near the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said veteran Paul Coulston.

“My thoughts are that it’s great for the veterans,” said veteran Tunishia Alexander.

The state of the art facility will provide vets with a number of new and existing services including– primary medical care, expanded mental health care, radiology and cardiology.

“Veterans have to travel a long distance to get some of those services. So the need has always been there. But now we’ll be able to provide them closer to home,” Deitzen said.

The new facility will cost an estimated $38 million to construct.

The VA expects to employ at least 100 people, 60 more people than it currently employs at the South Bend location.

Doors should open to patients in the spring of 2018.

“We’ve always made promises to our veterans that we would be there for them and we’re keeping our promises. Our vets have worked hand in hand with me on this project year after year. And together this is a great day,” Senator Joe Donnelly said.

The new facility is not on a bus route.

The director of the VA said they are working with the community to provide public transportation there.

South Bend Mayor’s office

This new, expanded facility means that veterans across the South Bend region will have access to more and better health care, right here in the area. Overall, it’s a positive development for veterans in St. Joseph County.

One concern is that compared with the current clinic in downtown South Bend, this facility will be located further away from most residents, with less access to public transportation. We will be working with the Department of Veterans Affairs, urging them to address this issue to ensure all veterans have access to the new site.

When the new clinic opens, the existing downtown clinic will not be needed. This creates an economic development opportunity in a highly promising area of downtown, near Four Winds Field. Our planning and economic development teams will be in touch with stakeholders in the business community about ideas to make the most of this opportunity.

—Kara Kelly, city spokesperson

Representative Jackie Walorski, IN-02 issued the following statement

After several years of planning and waiting, I’m happy this project is moving forward. Our veterans put everything on the line to defend our freedoms and giving them access to local services is the least we can do. I’ll continue to monitor this project to ensure it’s executed on an expeditious timeline.

US Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement

We owe the men and women who served our country a debt of gratitude, and that gratitude should be demonstrated, in part, by providing the most accessible, highest quality health care. This announcement is an important step toward bringing expanded VA health care to veterans across north central Indiana. This process has been ongoing for many years, and we will continue to see progress toward opening the doors of an even larger and expanded community-based outpatient clinic in St. Joe County. North central Indiana veterans deserve more convenient care.

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