Care for the brave in land of the free

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 27, 2019

By Rep. Bradley Byrne

It has been years in the making, but finally the veterans of our area will be able to get the care they have long deserved.

On March 18, I had the honor of participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new VA Outpatient Clinic located in Tillmans Corner.

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Many veterans from Southwest Alabama were on hand to witness the ceremony and tour the new facility. As someone who has deep respect and appreciation for our veterans, it was very exciting to watch the veterans tour their new facility.

My brother, Dale, was a veteran, who served in the Alabama National Guard, so I know the importance of caring for those who have given so much of themselves to our country.

Just before I was elected to my first term in Congress, Dale passed away. His legacy has always been something that has driven me every day to fight for our military members, both past and present. I couldn’t help but think about Dale as we were cutting the ribbon on that new VA clinic.

I am so proud of the hard work over the past two decades to reach this point. Work on this project dates back multiple Congressmen and shows just how complicated and frustrating the government bureaucracy can be.

As soon as I took office in Washington, I began pushing for the construction of this new VA facility. I held meetings and sent letters demanding a better clinic for our veterans. Thanks to the efforts of many people, we now have a clinic that truly reflects how we feel about our veterans.

Our area is home to over 50,000 veterans. They have served our nation honorably, and they are deserving of everything we have to give them. Shouldn’t we, as a grateful nation, be able to give them the very best? Thankfully, the new clinic is state-of-the-art, modern and offers several services that won’t require veterans to drive to the VA hospital in Biloxi, Miss.

The new, 65,000 square feet clinic is conveniently located right off I-10 in Tillmans Corner. This location should be easy for local veterans to access, and the clinic has adequate public parking.

The new clinic provides space for primary care, audiology and speech pathology, education, eye clinics, mental health, patient advocacy, radiology, Veterans’ Service Organizations and women’s health.

The region’s primary inpatient facility is still in Biloxi, but this new outpatient clinic in Mobile represents a huge improvement for our veterans.

Service in the military is so much more than just a job. It is a dedication to support and defend the Constitution and the people of the United States, both at home and abroad. That service is immeasurable, and I am humbled to represent so many of those who have fought for our freedoms.

There is still much work to be done to make life better for veterans. So far this year, I have thrown my support behind 15 bills focused on making life better for veterans, military families, or active duty service members.

Many of those bills have to do with getting veterans and their families the services, benefits and recognition they have literally fought for.

There is a great quote from Elmer Davis, a renowned news reporter and civil servant during World War II who knew the importance of informing the public of what service in the military really meant: “This will remain the land of the free so long as it is the home of the brave.”

As long as we remember to take care of the brave, we will remain the land of the free.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne represents the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.