Illustrations by Amanda Alten

Secretary of Veteran Affairs and retired U.S. Army General Eric Shinseki announced plans on March 21 to build a new Veterans Administration (VA) clinic in the city of Marina, Calif.

The 100,000–square foot facility is expected to provide quality health care for veterans on the Central Coast. The state-of-the-art facility will serve thousands of veterans, retired and active military personnel and their families. The 16-month project is designed to address a large portion of veterans’ basic medical needs closer to home, including specialty health care services and programs for both men and women of service.

Congressman Sam Farr serves California’s 17th Congressional District and is a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and related agencies. He said the new site is a sign of hope for returning veterans.

“The VA’s site selection moves us one big step closer to beginning construction and reaching our long-awaited dream,” Farr said in a prepared statement. “After their brave service, our Central Coast veterans deserve a medical facility that meets their needs close to home.”

There are over 22.7 million veterans across the United States, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. In California alone, nearly two million veterans served in various U.S. conflicts, including the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. The new Marina location is intended to provide quality health care for all who served in the military and make resources accessible for current and future generations of dedicated veterans.

The VA ordered the medical facility’s creation to reach underserved veterans. Several proposals were filed for a new VA clinic to provide in-depth services to supplement the existing VA clinic in Monterey, which is part of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.

Based on land availability, Marina was the best choice for the new clinic.

Bruce Delgado, mayor of Marina, said the project was especially pertinent in addressing the needs of veterans previously served by the Fort Ord U.S. Army posting. Spanning from Marina to Laguna Seca, Fort Ord closed in 1994 after 77 years of use.

“When the army closed on Fort Ord, it left a big hole in our community,” Delgado said. “There was a need to resuscitate our community and it definitely is a pride issue.”

Local organizations that serve veterans are excited for the new facility. Non-profit Monterey Bay Veterans, Inc., like the Monterey VA clinic, offers medical assistance to retired service members, assisting about 25,000 veterans annually.

James Bogan, a volunteer of the Monterey Bay Veterans, Inc., and Veterans Committee Chair, said the new VA medical facility is a critical step toward better services for veterans.

“A major problem is going to the closest facility, which is in Palo Alto or even Fairfield,” Bogan said. “This is extremely difficult. Thanks to this larger clinic, our vets will have local care now.”

Bogan, a disabled Vietnam veteran, has seen community struggles that he hopes the new facility can alleviate.

“I understand the need for a medical clinic or organization,” Bogan said. “I suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, but my disability does not matter. It’s time to give back to other veterans and their families, since they are the floor of the community.”

Marina mayor Delgado was thrilled and hopes the medical facility will strengthen the community and generate income for local businesses.

“Marina is such a small town, but whenever you build or construct something that is in the $80 million range, you know that it is going to create a lot of jobs during that year of construction,” Delgado said. “It is a catalyst project that can visually and financially encourage other businesses to consider moving to our area, plus across the nation where there are veterans that need clinics like this one.”