Elected leaders and officials from all levels of government were on hand for the dedication of the new VA Hospital at Lake Nona. A state of the art facility that will serve Central Florida’s 400,000 Veterans that call the region home.
The entire Central Florida Congressional Delegation was on hand including Representatives John Mica (R-Winter Park), Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville), Daniel Webster (R-Winter Garden), Alan Grayson (D-Orlando), Ron DeSantis (R-Ponte Vedra), Bill Posey (R-Rockledge), and Jeff Miller (R-Pensacola) Chairman of the House Committee of Veterans Affairs. Also in attendance was Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange Count Mayor Teresa Jacobs, and State Representative Mike Miller. The Keynote Speaker for the event was the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob Mcdonald.
“Today is a day of celebration” said Dyer, who was just one of the many leaders to speak and praised the bi-partisanship of the project. “This is for you” said Webster. Alan Grayson took a part of his time to praise McDonald saying “he’s an endangered speicies in Washington. He’s a straight shooter”. DeSantis, a Veteran himself, pointed out the historical importance of the occasion. Congressman Mica used his time behind the podium to remember a soldier who recently died on a peace mission shortly before the Memorial Day Holiday. And displayed a picture of his Father, who died waiting for care in a VA facility.
Secretary McDonald praised the work at the local level but admitted the embattled VA still has a lot of work to do, to eliminate it’s backlog and to provide better care to Veterans. “I can tell you as a resident of Orlando, and as a Veteran, I’m extremely excited to see this facility open. It’s great for all of the Veterans of Florida and great for the VA”
The Hospital faced serious delays and budget issues caused by disputes between contractors and the VA. Several departments such as Optometry, Dental, and Audiology are already open, and more expect to be open by the end of the year. Officials say that when it is fully operational, it will be the finest Veteran’s facility in the country.