Udall, Bennet: VA Hospital in Aurora Moves Closer to Completion

New Medical Center Will Provide Care for Thousands of Veterans in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West

Denver, CO – Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, U.S. Senators for Colorado, welcomed news today that the new, $800 million VA Medical Center at the medical campus in Aurora is moving forward with the Department of Veterans Affairs selection of a contractor for the project.

“Today’s news is a big milestone for the veterans’ community in Colorado.  For years, I’ve fought alongside our veterans for a freestanding, full-service hospital in Aurora.  After years of pushing, I’m so pleased to see it finally nearing reality,” Udall said.  “Not only will the hospital provide the best care possible for our veterans, it will create good-paying jobs for years to come.”

“As I talk with veterans across the state, they tell me that access to VA healthcare and services is a top concern.  They have been waiting too long for a state-of-the-art Veterans Hospital to call their own, and it’s great news that the center is another step closer to reality,” Bennet said.  “Our veterans have risked their lives to defend our country and keep us safe, and we need to do everything we can to provide them with the best care when they come home.  The new medical center will provide top-notch care for thousands of veterans in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West and will create thousands of jobs for Coloradans.”

In addition to the increase of 185 permanent jobs at the new facility, VA estimates that at the peak of construction there will be up to 1,750 workers on the construction site, and approximately 10,000 workers will be employed over the course of construction.  Additionally, the contractor has announced intentions to work with the Helmets to Hard Hats organization to employ veterans on the construction of the project.

In March 2009, new Secretary of the VA Eric Shinseki announced plans to move forward with a stand-alone, full-service VA hospital with comprehensive specialty care services, including a 30-bed Spinal Cord Injury Center.  The new medical center will provide a full range of medical, laboratory, research and counseling services including a new spinal cord injury unit.  In August, the VA officially broke ground on the new facility.

On June 9, 2009, Udall and Bennet joined Rep. Ed Perlmutter in testifying before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in support of the $119 million that President Obama requested for the new facility in his 2010 budget.  Following their testimony on June 18, 2009, Udall and Bennet urged the Senate Appropriations Committee in a personal letter to approve that entire amount so the hospital could move forward.

In June 2010, Udall and Bennet announced that legislation containing more than $450 million in critical funding for the new veterans hospital has passed the Appropriations Committee and is now before the full Senate for consideration.