Alpena Clinic to be named for Lieutenant Colonel Clement C. Van Wagoner
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and U.S. Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) today announced unanimous House passage of legislation that will name the upcoming U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Alpena after Michigan's most highly decorated veteran of World War II, Lieutenant Colonel Clement C. Van Wagoner. The Senate unanimously passed the legislation last December. The bill will now go to the President for his signature.
"Lieutenant Colonel Clement C. Van Wagoner served Alpena, Michigan and this nation valiantly and proudly," said Stabenow. "Naming this clinic after him is a fitting tribute to a man that devoted his life to protecting our country and to veterans across northern Michigan."
"I am pleased Congress has acted to name the Alpena VA clinic after this distinguished veteran and outstanding member of the Alpena community," Stupak said. "Lt. Col. Clement C. Van Wagoner was a local hero who devoted his life to the service of our state and country. Although Lt. Col. Van Wagoner is no longer with us, the memory of his service will live on through the Alpena VA clinic."
Lt. Col. Van Wagoner was in combat for 600 days, being wounded on five different occasions. He was also one of only 32 survivors of the 1,800 soldiers who landed with the 1st Infantry Division at Omaha Beach on D-Day. After World War II, Lt. Col. Van Wagoner continued to serve Michigan and his country by reorganizing the Michigan National Guard and commanding a battalion until retiring in 1967. Lt. Col. Van Wagoner was the recipient of the combat infantry badge, seven bronze stars, four silver stars and five purple hearts, among other honors.
Senator Stabenow has led the effort for a new Alpena VA clinic during the past four years. She has worked diligently with the Alpena community, the VA, and Veteran Service Organizations throughout the state and even presented the VA with a petition with over 1,000 signatures in support of the clinic. Last November, after working with Alpena-area veterans, she authored legislation renaming the new VA clinic after Lieutenant Colonel Clement C. Van Wagoner. Working with her colleagues in both parties, she successfully garnered unanimous support for her bill last December.
Congressman Stupak worked with Senator Stabenow to establish the Alpena VA clinic. During the 109th Congress, Stupak introduced legislation to create the community based outpatient clinic and wrote to the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that veterans in northern Michigan have access to VA medical care. In December of last year, he introduced the House version of legislation to name the Alpena VA clinic for Lt. Col. Van Wagoner and has worked with the House Veterans Affairs Committee and House Leadership to ensure it was considered this year.
The new clinic will ease the burden for veterans in Alpena and the surrounding area who regularly make long and often difficult trips to VA hospitals in other parts of the state to receive basic medical services.
The naming of the Alpena clinic has been endorsed by the Michigan American Legion, Michigan VFW, Michigan AMVETS, Michigan DAV, Alpena County Board of Commissioners, City of Alpena, Township of Alpena, Alpena County Veterans Council and Michigan's entire congressional delegation.