VA Secretary Visits Coast - - The News for South Mississippi

VA secretary visits coast

BILOXI, MS. (WLOX) - A member of President Obama's Cabinet came to the Mississippi Coast Thursday afternoon, and this time it had nothing to do with oil.

General Eric Shinseki is the Secretary of Veteran's Affairs. He oversees all vets services nationwide, including the VA's 153 hospitals. Thursday, he was checking on a very large construction project at the Biloxi VA. "Impressive," is the word the Secretary used to describe what he saw.

His visit included a tour of the several buildings now being constructed on the beautiful VA property. Those buildings include  a rehab center for the blind, which is only the 11th such VA facility in the country. He also stopped by a new 98-thousand square foot mental health building and a 105-thousand square foot extended care community living center, that includes 96 inpatient beds. All those buildings should be finished within the next 12 to 24 months.

"Anytime we have a project like this, it does a couple of things," the Secretary told members of the media after his tour. "First of all it lets veterans know that they count, that they are why the VA exists, they are the mission."

About 12-hundred construction workers are doing all this work, and Secretary Shinseki had a chance to visit with a few of them, including some veterans. Most of this work will be finished within two years.


Thomas Wisnieski runs the Biloxi VA and is understandably proud of what he sees all around him. "We are going to be able to offer state of the art facilities, new and improved facilities, and we are going to be expanding services so that we can provide additional services to the veterans that we treat," Wisnieski said.

The price tag for all this work is in the range of $310 million. Most of that money comes from federal stimulus funds.

Most of that funding comes from federal stimulus dollars.

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