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Veteran's Affairs Hospital's rennovation to improve veteran metal health care

July 7, 2009

The effort to make Central Texas a "Center of Excellence" for the treatment of psychiatric issues for veterans continued yesterday as a number of Veterans Affairs' and local dignitaries, including Congressman Chet Edwards, were on hand to break ground on a renovation of Building 8 on the campus' south side. The renovation will add 32 beds to the Waco VA's Acute Psychiatric Unit. Thomas Smith, director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, said the addition will help them stay on top of the need for mental health care.

Congressman Chet Edwards and Waco mayor Virginia DuPuy were the keynote speakers at the ceremony. Edwards said the work done in the facility fight to serve the ever growing need of mental health issues for returning soldiers.

The new building will be designed in a "pod-system" that will have a home-like atmosphere rather than an institutional-feel. It's a big step for a facility that slated for closure just a few short years ago. Representative Edwards said that when he and others fought to keep it open, these were the kind of steps they had in mind.

Beyond the acute treatment of those mental wounds, Thomas Smith, Central Texas' VA Director, said that these veterans will have options afterwards to continue to help them each step of the way.

Edwards noted that in addition to treatment, there will be research on mental health issues taking place here in Central Texas that will impact the broader population.

The renovation of the building and the new facility for the Acute Psychiatry Unit will be open in December of 2011.

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