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Texas VA center bounces back, will stay open
Waco VA to stay open...


By Gayle S. Putrich
Staff writer
Dec. 12, 2006
http://www.airforcetimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-2412017.php

The Waco Veterans’ Affiars Medical Center in Waco, Texas has bounced back, and with a vengeance.

Only three years ago, the facility was slated for closure. But the Department of Veterans’ Affairs announced earlier this month that it will remain open and fully operational.

The facility was one of seven named in a 2003 Government Accountability Office report recommending the medical centers be closed because they were not being run properly. In 2004, a VA study group recommended splitting up Waco’s programs among facilities in Temple and Austin, Texas.

But only a year later, Waco was designated as one of three sites around the country that will house mental health “centers of excellence.” The VA’s centers of excellence program, established in 2003, gives exceptional VA medical facilities a chance to choose a subject area and set its own research agenda, working with medical center staff and collaborating with local universities and medical schools.

“I have visited Waco and seen firsthand the world-class care we provide to Texas’ veterans. VA’s Waco facility is invaluable to veterans not just in Waco, but throughout the region,” said VA Secretary Jim Nicholson.

The Texas congressional delegation was instrumental in keeping the facility open. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and is a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, suggested Waco as a possible location for expanding the VA’s mental health research with a center of excellence.

Hutchison, along with fellow Texan and Republican Sen. John Cornyn, and Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards, whose district includes Waco, lobbied Nicholson hard to keep the facility open.

“I am proud to announce that the efforts of the Waco VA Task Force, the Texas congressional delegation, and countless others in the Waco area to keep the doors of the VA Medical Center open have been successful,” said Cornyn. “I could not be more pleased for our veterans and all those who depend on this critical facility.”