MANCHESTER — The Manchester VA Medical Center broke ground on its new 16,000-square-foot addition to include urgent care and mental health services Friday morning.
The two-story addition will enhance services by offering a direct entrance to the urgent care center, according to the organization.
“It will continue to set the bar high for our veterans, our employees and our community,” said Director Alfred Montoya. The VA has about 940 employees and treats about 27,000 patients a year from across New Hampshire, he said.
“If you are a veteran and you are not getting care at the Manchester VA, this is the new VA,” he said. “Come and try this VA because there are dedicated employees who are ready to take care of you and get you the care that you deserve.”
The building will help advance the VA’s mission to honor America’s veterans by providing exceptional health care, speakers at the groundbreaking said.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, said the center will make it easier for veterans to get care.
“Our veterans community has really provided an indispensable service to our country and for all of us in protecting our freedoms and sacrificing themselves and their families often,” Shaheen said. “It is really important that we ensure the best health care possible is available to them when they finish their service.”
The new space is important to highlight the need for increased mental health care needs, she said.
“The research is beginning to show that there are long-term impacts from PSTD and traumatic brain injury and we need to make sure people understand that,” Shaheen said in an interview after the gathering.
The addition will free up about 5,000 square feet in the hospital for other services. Construction being done by Eckman Construction in Bedford is set to start next month.
Dr. Alicia Semiatin, chief of mental health, said the VA has increased it efforts to recognize the impact of mental health struggles among veterans.
“That’s been a long time coming,” she said. “Suicide prevention is our No. 1 clinical priority and with that we are bolstering our services. We are trying to provide whole person care. We want to be the place of choice for veterans to come knowing they have providers they can trust and understand military experience.”
The work is expected to take about two years.
“I look forward to being here again in about two years to do the opening and see what this beautiful facility looks like,” Shaheen said.