DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL FACILITY AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - September 13, 2006)
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Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I rise in strong support of this remarkably good piece of legislation, and I would like to thank both Mr. Brown and Mr. Michaud, in particular the chairman Mr. Buyer and our ranking member Mr. Filner, for bringing us to this point with this legislation.
I had the great pleasure of hosting both Mr. Filner and Mr. Buyer in Las Vegas so they could see for themselves firsthand what the needs of my veterans were. The day that Mr. Buyer was touring our shared VA hospital facility, the hospital facility was on divert, and unfortunately every other hospital in the Las Vegas area was also on divert. It is a very common occurrence in the fastest growing community in the United States, and that is why this is such an important piece of legislation.
I represent the Las Vegas area of the State of Nevada. It is the fastest growing community in the United States. But I also have the fastest growing veterans population in the United States, and no health care facilities in which to treat these 200,000-plus veterans that call southern Nevada home.
After the CARES study, it was determined that Las Vegas was indeed entitled to an entire medical complex, and I am very happy to say that this piece of legislation authorizes a medical complex that is comprised of three buildings, an 80-bed VA hospital, full-service VA hospital, a full-service outpatient clinic to take care of the needs of our veterans, and a 120-bed long-term facility which is so desperately needed in the southern Nevada area.
It will be located on 147 acres in north Las Vegas on the corner of the 215 and Pecos Road. This land has already been transferred to the VA, so we don't have to worry about the land. This land has already been blessed by the Southern Nevada Paiute Tribe in a remarkable ceremony. We have already been allocated $259 million, and the VA Secretary in his testimony in front of our committee has stated on numerous occasions that the balance of the amount to finish this VA medical complex will be contained in the 2008 budget. I am absolutely delighted to be able to go back to the veterans in southern Nevada and let them know that my colleagues in the United States Congress recognized their needs and are answering the call and providing the needs for our veterans.
I am looking forward to the groundbreaking that will be taking place in October. I am waiting for the VA Secretary to let us know when this groundbreaking will take place. We will do vertical construction at the beginning of next year, and hopefully this complex will be completed for our veterans in 2010.
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