Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs selected a contractor to build the second phase of its clinic in Billings. Tester has led the charge to expand the clinic, first calling for its expansion when he delivered the keynote address at the dedication of the new clinic in 2009:
"Expanding the Billings VA clinic allows the VA to improve services and increase access to the care Montana veterans have earned. Our veterans deserve the best facilities and health care providers available, and I'll keep my eye on the project to make sure it gets done right."
Once complete, the expanded facility will provide outpatient surgery and specialty services to an estimated 11,000 veterans in Montana, and about 10,000 veterans from neighboring Wyoming. The new facility will offer many of the services now available at Montana's only VA hospital, at Fort Harrison.
In addition to a same-day surgery center, the expanded clinic will offer new services in audiology, physical and occupational therapy, dental care and magnetic resonance imaging. Additional space will be added for existing primary-care services.
Tester today toured the VA clinic in Great Falls. He also announced that the VA and the Department of Health and Human Services will follow his roadmap and work together to more effectively contract with local health care providers to enhance rural veterans' access to quality mental health services.
Tester is Montana's only member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.