Biloxi VA celebrates largest expansion - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi VA celebrates largest expansion

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Friday was a day of celebration at the Biloxi VA. A ribbon cutting was held to dedicate five new buildings. It's the largest expansion in the history of that facility.

The Biloxi VA has been a construction zone for the past six years. But the majority of that massive expansion is finally finished. It includes a new mental health building, community living center, blind rehab center, a clinical addition and parking garage.

Thomas Wisnieski is director of the Biloxi VA.

"For those that have been here through Katrina and the construction, it's just awesome to see the transformation of our campus," he said.

For those who haven't been at the Biloxi VA in awhile, they may not recognize the new campus. Just ask the mayor.

"This is magnificent. I didn't even know where I was. I thought I was lost when I drove in here and saw all these new buildings and everything," said the mayor.

It's a more than $310 million investment that involved multiple contractors and a total expansion of more than 500,000 square feet.

"We do more than officially open these doors to these wonderful new facilities, we make one more installment on the debt of gratitude that President Lincoln spoke. And that was to care for he or she who has borne the battle," said William Schoenhard, VHA Undersecretary.

Biloxi VA employees chose the name for this expansion project. With so many beautiful live oaks on the campus, "Project Acorn" seems most appropriate.

"Like an oak tree born from an acorn, our growth will be rooted in a strong foundation that supports the many branches of our health care system," said Director Wisnieski.

A reception in the new community living center followed the ribbon cutting. Veterans who will benefit from the new facilities, like what they see.

"I think they're fabulous. It's just something that they deserve to put here. And I'm real happy," said Elwin Beatty.

"A beautiful place. A good place for those that are ill and need to recuperate," said Frank Walters.

"I haven't seen the whole facility. But so far, I like everything that I've seen," says Silas Jackson.

And this isn't the end of the construction at the Biloxi VA. Another new building will be finished next year and two additional buildings will be constructed over the next three years.

The total project created 200 new permanent jobs at the Biloxi VA campus.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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