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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki

Denver VAMC Groundbreaking
Aurora, CO
August 22, 2009

  • Senator Bennett; 
  • Governor Ritter; 
  • Representatives Perlmutter, Markey, Polis, and Coffman; 
  • Mayors Hickenlooper and Tauer; 
  • Glen Grippen, director of VISN 19, and Lynette Roff, Director, Eastern Colorado Health Care System; 
  • Colonel Mike Chyrek, Commander, 460th Medical Group; 
  • Fellow Veterans, representatives of our Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) who helped push for this medical center; 
  • Other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.  

Thank you all for your longstanding support of Veterans over many years, and for being stalwart in doing what is right by them.  This groundbreaking ceremony today for a new medical center is keeping faith with the men and women who kept faith with us when our country needed them most.  So I am most honored to be participating in today’s ceremony.

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center here in Aurora will serve not only Denver-area Veterans, but those from surrounding communities, and in some cases, surrounding states as well, offering Veterans a full-range of medical, laboratory, research and counseling services.    We are especially proud of the 30 beds in the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) center.  This part of the facility will significantly reduce or eliminate travel times and other inconveniences for some of our most seriously injured Veterans who reside in the Denver area but who must now receive care at other facilities, as well as reduce travel time for hundreds of SCI patients who must travel for outpatient services.

President Obama has charged me with transforming VA into a high-performing 21st century organization, one that serves Veterans by increasing access to services and benefits they earned, by providing them the highest quality of healthcare available, and by controlling costs for them to the best of our abilities.  Doing so will make VA a model of governance, a different organization from the one that exists today.  Five years from now, we want to be the provider of choice for Veterans in insurance, in healthcare, in education, in home loans, in counseling, and in employment.

To achieve that kind of regard from Veterans, we must make it easier for them to understand their entitlements and then make it much simpler for them to access their benefits.   

More must be done to earn a “provider of choice” reputation amongst Veterans.  Thanks to the members of congress with us today, and to Governor Ritter, we’re a lot closer to that objective here in Colorado.  The new VA Medical Center is good for Denver, good for Colorado, good for VA—and, most importantly, the right thing to do for Veterans.

Thank you.