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Groundbreaking on long-awaited new Veterans Affairs Center in Chesapeake

The 196,000-square-foot facility will provide outpatient primary care when it opens in 2024.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — It's just what the doctor ordered for thousands of local military veterans who live on the southside of Hampton Roads

Ground was officially broken Wednesday on the new Department of Veterans Affairs Chesapeake Health Care Center.

The 196,000-square-foot facility will be built on a 24.5-acre site next to Chesapeake Regional Healthcare off Battlefield Boulevard. It will provide outpatient services for primary care, mental health, and eye clinic services, as well as new specialty care and advanced imaging services.

Mostly what it will do for vets is eliminate the burden of having to cross the tunnels to receive routine medical care.

Over 50% of the patients at the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center reside on the south side of Hampton Roads. Soon they no longer will they have to go to the VA; the VA will come to them.

"It's going to be huge for them not to have to commute to Hampton," said Taquisa Simmons, executive director of the Hampton VA Medical Center.

The Hampton VA Medical Center has seen a 23% increase in the number of patients seeking care since 2017.

The new Chesapeake facility should go a long way toward relieving the stress at Hampton and make things easier for southside patients in terms of travel and reducing long wait times for medical care.

"We all know, getting over to Hampton -- depending on the time of day -- can be a real pain," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia). "And what we're doing is, we were not providing the quality of care to the veterans who deserve it."

Rep. Bobby Scott (D, VA-03) agreed.

"That's what we're doing, is making sure that we're showing respect to our veterans," he said. "Health care is one thing that they desperately need."

The long-delayed Chesapeake project has been in the works for about a decade. Congress approved the leases for 28 new Veterans Affairs facilities around the country, including the one in Chesapeake, back in 2017.

It's hoped the new health care center will be finished and opened to vets in the fall of 2024.

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