Critics have complained that Western Montana’s veterans have had to make do with an undersized clinic, but that’s about to change. Friday in Missoula was the groundbreaking for a vastly updated outpatient veteran’s clinic in Missoula.
At over 52,000 energy efficient square feet, Missoula’s brand-new VA facility will be a much larger upgrade over the existing Community Based Outpatient Clinic, or CBOC. The new David J. Thatcher VA Clinic, named for the decorated Montanan who participated in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan, will have 154 percent more space than the existing clinic.
When it opens late next year, the new $3 million center will offer primary care, mental health and specialty care services.
Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester attended Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony just east of Missoula International Airport. Tester, a Democrat, is the ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
“It’s been a long time coming, but it’s good it’s come,” Tester said. “The veterans in Western Montana are going to be able to take advantage of this place and get the health care they’re earned, and I think that’s a real positive thing. I think it also helps from a recruitment standpoint to be able to get the docs and the nurses and management people we need here. It’s a win-win all the way around.”
Montana’s Republican U.S. Senator, Steve Daines, says Missoula’s upgraded Thatcher Clinic will also be much more convenient.
“For veterans who have to go all the way to Fort Harrison for care, to have the ability here now to have, now, one of the best facilities in Montana right here in Missoula, as well as the telemedicine capabilities which is really important for our veterans, especially in a state like Montana with the challenges of our roads and winter driving.”
Executive Director of the VA Montana Healthcare System, Dr. Judy Haman, says the new facility will provide state-of-the-art health care to Montana veterans.