VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System (ECHCS) celebrated the official opening of Space Center VA Clinic on Sept. 13 in Colorado Springs. This year’s projects moved routine health and wellness services closer to where Veterans live.
VA ECHCS has steadily increased its presence in Colorado Springs since 2014. That summer, smaller clinics in downtown Colorado Springs closed with the opening of the three-story, 76,000 square-foot PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom VA Clinic, located along the Pikes Peak foothills in western Colorado Springs. Six years later, Union Boulevard VA Clinic opened in the 8,000 square-foot Suite 200, putting primary care services back into central Colorado Springs.
In April, VA ECHCS continued its efforts to move services closer to where Veterans live, with an additional 9,000-square-foot, first-floor suite at its Union Boulevard VA Clinic, more than doubling the size of that facility. It continues to house primary care teams with embedded mental health services, along with laboratory services and physical therapy.
Garden of the Gods VA Clinic opened in May with an almost 4,000-square foot space designed for intensive community mental health recovery and vocational rehabilitation services, as well as care for Veterans experiencing homelessness.
And now with Space Center VA Clinic, another 16,000 square feet is available for primary care, mental health, physical therapy and laboratory services.
“I am a believer that Veterans return home to a community and VA is part of that community,” said Michael Kilmer, VA ECHCS director, and a U.S. Coast Guard Veteran. He was speaking to more than a dozen community leaders attending the Space Center VA Clinic open house. “Our community is invested in uplifting our Veterans for their health, and well-being overall.”
Most VA primary care teams are relocating from PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom VA Clinic, so the outpatient facility near the foothills can continue to cultivate a specialty-care hub, including gynecology, orthopedics, cardiology, urology, acupuncture, chiropractic care and physical therapy.
“Our dedication to an ever-growing community remains steadfast,” said Kilmer. “The catalyst of this expansion is increased Veteran enrollment.” With tens of thousands of Veterans already enrolled in the Pikes Peak area, VA ECHCS’ fastest-growing market is expected to outpace Denver metro in Veteran outpatient and surgical care.
“Contrary to myth, if a Veteran enrolls in VA, it does not deplete resources—it adds resources to our community. With the PACT Act, it’s even expanded more.”
Kilmer said roughly 9,000 Veterans in Colorado had enrolled in VA care over the past year, since the Sergeant First Class Health Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act was signed into law in August 2022. It expanded eligibility for millions of Veterans, including many Vietnam era, Gulf War era and Post-9/11 Veterans.
“Access to care is so important,” said retired U.S. Army Col. Robert McLaughlin, Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center executive director and former garrison commander at Fort Carson, one of several military installations in the Pikes Peak area.
“Among our Veterans, especially in this community, access to that care is so important. We all know how important our region is to both the active-duty and Veteran communities.”
McLaughlin also stated that having these services available for Veterans exists because of the connection between the Veteran communities and VA and how they work together.
During the Space Center VA Clinic open-house, Kilmer recognized retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Edwin Beck, a World War II and Korean War Army Veteran, with a certificate and coin from VA Secretary Denis McDonough.
Beck was recognized for both his service and helping to reduce Veteran suicides by speaking on his military experiences as a prisoner of war. The nonagenarian is slated to celebrate his 99th birthday this February.
For more information on how to apply for VA health care, including the documents needed to determine eligibility, visit VA.gov/health-care/how-to-apply.