SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - The Office of Veterans Affairs said Thursday that it expects to open an interim veterans clinic in Lake Charles in September and a permanent facility by late 2016.
The VA confirmed the news to KPLC Thursday soon after U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Congressman Charles Boustany (R-La.) issued a joint new release saying the VA had identified a possible location for the Lake Charles interim clinic, and that the deal should be complete by the summer's end.
The new location would be an big upgrade from the current mobile facility.
The news release said Vitter and Boustany had received a response to their March 20 letter to Robert McDonald, secretary of Veterans Affairs, "expressing the urgent need for the VA to act quickly in Lafayette and Lake Charles to build long-overdue VA clinics."
"After continuing delays with the Lake Charles facility, the VA has requested revised proposals and has 'identified a prospective successful offer that qualifies as an operating lease.' The VA estimates a lease will be awarded at the end of summer," responded Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson.
An interim VA Clinic in Lafayette is also expected to open by the end of summer."I'm pleased the VA is acting to provide temporary space for local veterans while permanent facilities are constructed," Boustany said.
"We aren't going to let up until both of these clinics are completed," Vitter said.
This latest news comes just a day after city and parish officials held a joint news conference to air their frustrations with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
"We as a community stand united in our demand that the VA honor its commitment to the men and women who make up the veterans population here in Southwest Louisiana and do what has been promised to be done," said Mayor Randy Roach.
But, Thursday's news from the VA doesn't differ much from a statement the office released in April that said an interim Lake Charles clinic would open within six months. But it does move the timeline up for the permanent facility by two years -- from 2018 to now, late 2016.
The quest for a VA Clinic in Lake Charles has been in the works for about 15 years.