Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star: EDITORIAL: A big win for Spotsylvania

FREDERICKSBURG FREE LANCE-STAR

CONGRATULATIONS to Spotsylvania County for winning the hard-fought competition for a new Veterans Administration outpatient clinic, which will now be built on a 60-acre tract off Hood Drive between U.S. 1 and Interstate 95. This major new health care facility will not only be an important addition to the county, but a godsend to the many veterans living in the Fredericksburg region who currently have to travel long distances for medical care.

The new $376 million state-of-the-art facility, which was first announced by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2017, will replace two smaller outpatient clinics in the area. It’s expected to generate more than 300 jobs when it opens in late 2023, with that number increasing to 550 by 2026. The four-story, 450,000-square-foot clinic will be privately owned and leased to the federal government.

Attracting what will be the nation’s largest VA outpatient clinic is a big deal—the kind of economic development project that most jurisdictions fight tooth-and-nail to acquire. That Spotsylvania beat out both the City of Fredericksburg and Stafford County for the project says a lot about its current status as a desirable location as well as its prospects for future economic development, which the new outpatient clinic will help stimulate.

“This move not only shines a light on Spotsylvania, but it creates jobs and opens up new possibilities for future development with the potential of benefitting the entire region,” Spotsylvania Board Chairman Gary Skinner said. He added that Berkeley Supervisor Kevin Marshall—who also works for the county’s Department of Economic Development—was instrumental in securing the VA project. “This could not have become a reality without his devotion and diligent work,” Skinner said.

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The Veterans Health Administration already has a number of medical facilities in Virginia, due to the fact that the commonwealth is home to the Pentagon and 27 military bases, including the nearby Marine Corps Base Quantico, Fort A.P. Hill, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren. The commonwealth is also one of four states whose veteran populations exceed 10 percent.

The new clinic is one of 28 outpatient clinic leases authorized by Congress back in 2017, but the ones in Spotsylvania and Hampton Roads were among the last scheduled for construction, prompting a sharply-worded rebuke to the VA last year from Sen. Mark Warner .

Both Representatives Rob Wittman, R–1st District, and Abigail Spanberger, D–7th District, applauded the decision. “This new facility will allow even better care to be delivered for veterans living in the 1st Congressional District and the greater Fredericksburg region,” said Wittman, who has been a vocal advocate of the project in Congress for the last several years.

Spanberger called it “an important addition to the commonwealth’s network of veteran care.”

That it is, and Spotsylvania County can now take a well-deserved bow.

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