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Sep 23, 2010 12:57 AM by Jim Hummel

Veterans Rally for VA Hospital

The push for both a VA super clinic and a hospital continued in Lafayette Wednesday. The Veterans Action Coalition of Acadiana met with representatives with the Alexandria VA Medical Center to discuss their needs.

"We need better healthcare and we're asking for it and we feel confident that Gracie Specks, the new director is very supportive of what we're trying to do," said Rodney Hamilton, a purple-heart recipient and Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War who is chairman of the coalition.

Currently the closest VA medical center for Veterans is in Alexandria, which means local veterans have to drive a long way for medical care. Hamilton says that distance is the driving force behind the coalition's requests. To date more than 22,000 people have written letters in support of both a hospital and a super clinic.

Gracie Specks, Director of the Alexandria VA Medical Center says the VA is considering the requests. Right now she says there is preliminary approval to build a super clinic in Lafayette. That approval should be finalized by officials in Washington D.C. by the end of November, at which point a number of undisclosed locations would be bid on for it's location.

"The clinic that we're going to expand would be between 25-thousand and 28-thousand square feet," said Specks.

The coalition would ideally like to locate the clinic at the site formerly occupied by Southpark Hospital on the Youngsville Highway and the hospital at the site currently occupied by Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center once the hospital relocates to it's new facility next year.

While Hamilton says the clinic would be a step in the right direction, the coalition remains committed to getting a full-fledged VA hospital here in Acadiana.

"We need a hospital and we need a super clinic, we need both--we don't need one or the other, we need both," said Hamilton.

Jim Hummel

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