SOMERSWORTH — A new VA outpatient clinic in Somersworth has been dedicated to an 85-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran who pushed for the facility on behalf of his peers.
Retired Staff Sgt. James Alty, of Dover, wasted no time on Friday when he got to the microphone, telling the large crowd gathered at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new clinic that the next step is opening a 25-bed treatment center for suicidal veterans.
“I want two more units in the backyard here. We’ve got room for them. One for PTSD care with beds for guys who need it right away, who don’t want to wait and are suicidal,” Alty said. “If one of our guys, if they say they are going to commit suicide, we’re going to get them a bed. We’re going to get them treatment now.”
After that, Alty would like to build a facility for veterans who have drug and alcohol addiction.
The new 8,684-square-foot outpatient clinic will have more mental health help for veterans, more services for women who served, and designated space for Telehealth services. It is located at 5 Terrascape Parkway, across the street from the former outpatient clinic.
Kevin Forrest, interim medical center director at the Manchester VA Medical Center, said it serves 27,000 veterans. Staff at the Somersworth outpatient clinic see nearly 2,700 veterans from New Hampshire and Maine, he said.
“Today, the Manchester VA is fulfilling our obligation to care for our Somersworth area veterans with this new CBOC (community based outpatient clinic),” Forrest said.
Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas, all D-NH, were in attendance.
They thanked Alty for his determination and dedication to fellow veterans.
“Jim, you were such an instrumental part of making this center possible and you have long been a strong advocate for all of New Hampshire’s veterans. This is an incredible example of how you, and veterans throughout our state, work tirelessly to support your fellow veterans,” Hassan said.
Alty is a Korean War-era veteran who served in Vietnam. He entered the U.S. Air Force in 1953.