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KATC - Construction on Veterans' Clinic is Getting Back on Track

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The Department of Veterans' Affairs has admitted to making a huge mistake. Delaying construction of the brand new VA outpatient clinics for more than a year. Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, along with Congressmen Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry, met with officials in Washington calling for action from the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

The group says it will hold the VA's "feet to the fire."

"At today's meeting, I offered different scenarios to help solve this problem," said Rep. Landry. "My solutions included both time savings and cost savings to get these clinics back on track."

"Many veterans and their families are understandably angry and upset about the delays in these clinics. The VA took full responsibility for the failed procurement process, committing to Louisiana's veterans and promising the delegation that it will try every way possible, under the law, to expedite the process," Sen. Landrieu said.

Nearly 60,000 veterans call Acadiana home and the nearest specialty care is in Alexandria.

Senator Vitter expressed his frustration, saying the veterans have been waiting for a long time for this level of service.

"There's been no attempt to think outside the box, no attempt to find a creative solution - just paint-by-numbers bureaucracy. I hear all these assurances that actions will be taken to speed up the process," said Sen. Vitter. "The only plan that was stated today would take us completely back to square one."

Earlier this month, construction was put on hold on new clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles because of clerical errors made by the VA.

"What they've told us is that their solicitation for offers was flawed. And it being flawed has created an unfair process," said Rep. Boustany.

The group says the VA is extremely apologetic and blames no one at the local level. The Veteran's Administration agreed to give all involved monthly updates on it's progress, but no time table has been given on the completion of the new clinics.

The Louisiana delegates recognized the continuing support of the Veteran's Action Coalition (VAC), saying they have worked hard over the last two years in order to make these clinics a reality. Tom Grote, Co-Chair of the VAC of Southwest Louisiana, said that their only hope with these clinics is to move specialized care closer.

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