Groundbreaking ceremony held for new V.A. clinic in Missoula

MISSOULA — A crowd gathered on Friday to celebrate the start of construction on the new David J. Thatcher Veterans Affairs clinic.

The event brought together Montana’s U.S. senators, veterans, the Salish-Kootenai tribe and more. The facility will be 60,000 square feet, covering eight acres. That’s about a 40,000 square foot increase from the current clinic.

The $48 million dollar clinic is named after Montana veteran, David J. Thatcher, who received the silver star for his service in the Doolittle Raid.

The facility will have tele-medicine technology. Health care professionals will be able to treat patients virtually, who are unable to travel to the facility due to weather, or other challenges.

U.S. Senator for Montana, Jon Tester, said Western Montana veterans played an important role in getting this clinic established.

“What really drove this was the veterans in Western Montana. They’re the folks who really stepped up, told us we needed this, couldn’t be screwing around, time was of the essence,” Tester said.

U.S. Senator for Montana, Steve Daines, said the clinic will help veterans who currently have to travel farther than necessary to receive the care they need.

“I hear all the time the need to improve our quality of care, and really it’s proximity of care for our veterans. We’re the fourth largest state in the United States,” Daines said. “So our veterans are spread out across very large geographies, this helps close some of those distances.”

Both Tester and Daines said the need for a new facility is important now more than ever before, because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Officials said they are aiming to have the facility done by the Winter of 2021.