A new medical center is scheduled to open by October 2016 and give Pasco veterans lore convenient access to medical care.
New Port Richey, FL -- It looks like Pasco County veterans will benefit big time from a huge Veterans Affairs health improvement measure that became law Thursday.
The $16.3 billion law calls for an $11 million budget for the area to lease a facility to meet current and future demands of the area's growing veteran population. One of the highest per capita in the region.
READ: Veterans Access Choice and Accountability Act (PDF)
"It's gonna be a hug blessing for me," said Gary Motteler, a Vietnam vet.
Pasco area veterans poised to benefit from new VA law passed by Congress. New facility would double service capacity.
The idea of a new VA facility consolidating medical services currently offered at separate clinics scattered across Pasco County would be a godsend for Mottleler.
"My heart, my circulation, everything's falling apart," said Motteler.
BACKGROUND:Veterans sound off on VA concerns
Motteler was in the military police in Vietnam, was exposed to Agent Orange, and now has seven stents in his heart.
The new facility, which would open by October 2016, will be more efficient and far more convenient, he says, than the next closest VA in Tampa.
"This way they're right here where we can all get to them," said Motteler.
The estimated 14,000 Pasco veterans who use the VA say they have seen the same delays others have complained about.
At 114,000 square feet, the new facility would double current capacity.
The current facilities are often pushed to their limits, says Marty Barlow, an officer with the VFW in Pasco County.
"If you ever go to the Little Road VA center in the winter time, you can't get in," said Barlow.
Possible sites for the 20-year, $11 million leased space, include Land O' Lakes and New Port Richey.
Perhaps on the property housing the old community hospital, says U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis. "The original building is probably not in play, but behind there there's a lot of acreage," he said.
CONTACT:Get in touch with Rep. Bilirakis
Although the VA will have the final say on the location of the new facility, Bilirakis says he's planning more town hall meetings soon to hear what location and services veterans would prefer.