Montana delegation leads Billings VA Clinic naming committee

Tester, Walsh, Daines pick representatives for commission

(U.S. CONGRESS) – Senator Jon Tester, Senator John Walsh, and Congressman Steve Daines are leading the effort to select a name for the expanded Billings VA Clinic.

Tester, Walsh and Daines each chose a representative to serve on a three-person commission to pick the clinic’s new name.

Tester, Montana’s only member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, led the charge to expand the Billings VA Clinic, which, once complete, will provide outpatient surgery and specialty services to an estimated 11,000 veterans in Montana and about 10,000 veterans from neighboring Wyoming.

Tester named Sue Davidson to the commission. Sue is the first female Commander of the Montana Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 10 in Billings. She served in the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Reserves.

Walsh named John Doyle, a Vietnam veteran, Crow tribal member and former Big Horn County Commissioner.

Daines named George Blackard, who currently serves as District 11 Commander for American Legion Department of Montana.

The commission is expected to find consensus and select a name by early April. Once the commission chooses a name, Tester, Walsh and Daines will introduce legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives to enshrine the name into law.

Congress only considers legislation to name the facility after an individual who is deceased and who was either connected to the facility’s construction, a high-ranking member of the government, or a civilian who has performed an outstanding service on behalf of veterans. All members of a state’s delegation must approve the naming legislation.

The new facility will offer many of the same services now available at Fort Harrison, Montana’s only VA hospital. 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.