Updated: February 7, 2011 at 12:00 am
A long-awaited announcement of a site for a new Veterans Affairs health clinic in Colorado Springs could come as early as this week and ground will be broken this year, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn said Monday during a talk in Colorado Springs.
That means by fall 2012 area veterans will be able to get services such as a CT scan here rather than traveling to Denver.
Lamborn mentioned the project, which Congress approved in 2007, at a luncheon hosted by the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He said project plans were finalized in December.
The new clinic will more than double the size of the two current clinics, from 35,000 square feet to 80,000 feet, and will increase patient capacity by 5,000. Last year, the two clinics served roughly 14,000 patients.
There are 77,269 veterans in El Paso County, according to the IRS website.
The biggest changes, said VA public affairs officer Jordan Schupbach, will be the addition of several new departments, including radiology, dental, optometry, audiology and laboratory.
The clinic will have its own pharmacy, as well as a benefits information office where veterans can fill out forms and ask questions about programs.
“It’s kind of a one-stop shop,” said Schupbach.
The clinic’s focus will remain primary care and mental health.
Lamborn touched briefly on the clinic during his remarks to members of the Chamber when he was discussing veterans issues. The underlying theme of his speech was federal spending, which he said could wreck the country.
“We have to be serious about cutting spending,” Lamborn said. “We can save a program, or we can save our country. That is the choice facing us today.”
The congressman pounded the crowd with statistics: The national debt is increasing by $54,000 per second. That will add up to $21 trillion by 2021, he said.
President Barack Obama’s policies have cost the west 16,000 jobs and driven $3.9 billion in energy projects from the region, he said. He lamented that the Affordable Healthcare for America Act (or Obamacare, depending on who’s speaking) is too expensive — $2.6 trillion total, with an increase of $700 billion in the national debt over the next decade.
He complained that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is planning to slash $178 billion from the Pentagon’s budget, despite there being 6,000 ballistic missiles in the world not controlled by the U.S., Russia, China or NATO.
His core messages — fiscal responsibility, supporting small businesses and a strong military — got through easily.
Mike Ciletti, owner of New West Public Affairs, said Lamborn hit all the right notes.
“It’s more a question of just, ‘Keep fighting. Keep doing what’s right for all of Colorado,’” Ciletti said. “And keep focusing on business issues. That’s really going to get us back to where we need to be as a country.”
“I liked what I heard,” said retired Army officer David Stanley. “A lot more people need to get behind him and give him the teeth that he needs.”
Colorado Springs Planning Commissioner Janet Suthers, wife of Attorney General John Suthers, also praised Lamborn for mentioning a bill he’s sponsoring with Boulder Democrat Jared Polis.
The measure would restrict each bill to a single subject.
“That’s an encouraging sign, that when opportunities arise, he did reach across the aisle. I’d love to see him do it more,” Suthers said.
Read more on Colorado politics at my Second Reading blog.
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