Tester marks expansion of Billings VA Clinic
(BILLINGS, Mont.) - Standing proudly with Montana veterans, Senator Jon Tester today helped break ground on the expansion of the Billings VA Clinic.
Once complete, the expanded facility will provide outpatient surgery and specialty services to an estimated 11,000 veterans in Montana and about 10,000 veterans from neighboring Wyoming. The new facility will offer many of the same services now available at Fort Harrison, Montana's only VA hospital.
Tester, Montana's only member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, has led the charge to expand the clinic. He first called for the clinic's expansion when he delivered the keynote address at the facility's dedication in 2009.
"Three years ago, I said that the building and dedication of this new facility reminds us all that our obligation - to look after all those who have kept us safe - does not stop when they come home," Tester said. "And today we double down on our commitment to our veterans."
Tester, who brought VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to the clinic in 2011 to build support for the project, told onlookers that everyone who fought to increase veterans' access to care made today's groundbreaking possible.
"Today didn't come without a fight and your work made the difference," Tester said. "Expanding this clinic renews our pledge not to forget the service and sacrifice of anyone who wears the uniform of our Nation."
In addition to a same-day surgery center, the expanded clinic will offer new services in audiology, physical and occupational therapy, dental care and magnetic resonance imaging. Additional space will be added for existing primary-care services.
Tester also said that in a rural state like Montana many veterans will always need care in their homes or at local clinics, and that's why he successfully fought to waive copays for veterans' telehealth services.
Tester's pledge to Montana's veterans extends to all parts of the state. He recently fought to build and open the new psychiatric wing at Fort Harrison and got the VA to adopt his roadmap to expand rural veterans' access to care.