Florida veterans will have more medical centers at which to receive mental health and outpatient services after the U.S. Senate late Tuesday unanimously approved legislation authorizing seven new major VA medical facilities in the state.
The new Florida VA facilities will be in Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Ocala, Tampa, Lakeland and two in Gainesville, according to a written statement from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who co-sponsored legislation authorizing the new facilities.
“We have a duty to care for the brave men and women who have served in our nation’s military,” Nelson said. “Getting these seven new VA clinics opened here in Florida will make it easier for some of our veterans to access the care that they need.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, who also co-sponsored the legislation, said in a written statement that the new facilities would help improve veterans’ access to medical care.
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“Our veterans have fought selflessly to defend our country and protect our freedoms, and they deserve easy and convenient access to quality healthcare,” Rubio said. “These outpatient clinics will allow them to receive outpatient care close to home, and I’m glad we were able to get these projects started in our state.”
Florida’s veteran population ranks third in the nation, with an estimated 1.55 million vets in 2015, including 715,000 who were enrolled in the VA Healthcare System, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The legislation authorizing the new Florida facilities was included in a broader veterans’ healthcare bill, known as the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017. The measure, which was approved by the U.S. House last week, now heads to the president’s desk.
New Florida VA medical facilities
The Florida VA medical facilities and the amounts authorized for each are:
▪ Replacement outpatient clinic in Daytona Beach, not to exceed $12.2 million
▪ New outpatient clinic in Gainesville, not to exceed $7.9 million
▪ Outpatient mental health clinic in Gainesville, not to exceed $4.3 million
▪ Replacement outpatient clinic in Jacksonville, not to exceed $18.6 million
▪ Replacement outpatient clinic in Ocala, not to exceed $5 million
▪ Replacement mental health clinic in Tampa, not to exceed $13.4 million
▪ Replacement outpatient clinic in Lakeland/Tampa, not to exceed $10.8 million