Third phase of St. John military center begins with donation of land

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – The third part of the St. John military center got the official kickoff on Monday morning in the office of Parish President Nickie Monica.

Officials with the Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, along with St. John officials, gathered to sign the papers which donated five acres of land to the veterans group which will build a V.A. Clinic on the site.

The building will be 10,000 square feet and cost $3.5 million, however, it should be in place by September or October of this year since it is a modular building being brought in.

Monica called it &#8220a beautiful day for our veterans” as the third military-related facility to be built on the land in Reserve, just off Airline Highway.

Currently there is the huge Veterans Retirement Home which will open for business in the coming months, and recently there was a groundbreaking for a National Guard Readiness Center. The VA Clinic will sit on land across the street from the Retirement Home, making it a perfect place to best serve veterans.

Julie Catellier, director of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, said that this will be the seventh clinic in the region, although St. John currently houses a temporary facility operating out of the VFW Hall in LaPlace.

The new building will offer a full range of primary and mental outpatient care for veterans, &#8220just like visiting a regular doctor,” Catellier said.

&#8220This will be a wonderful one-stop place for veterans needing health care services,” she added.

Monica calls the latest facility coming to St. John something that &#8220solidifies our commitment to veterans. Ever since we held the July Fourth celebration in 2000, we wanted to show our veterans how important they are to us, and now I’m happy to see how St. John has added more things here to provide services for them.”

Monica said that his administration, doing research on the veterans situation when they began working on the other projects, has determined there are approximately 240,000 veterans within 60 miles of St. John Parish.

Once completed the VA Clinic will have 40 staff members, and Catellier said the local clinic is already helping 3,500 veterans in the region.

&#8220This is a physical representation of St. John’s commitment to veterans,” she said. &#8220They are America’s heroes and we want to give them the best care possible.”

She added that since Hurricane Katrina, there are more area veterans who qualify for the VA Clinic services, since the income of many has declined.

&#8220Right now we are seeing about 60 veterans a day here, but with the robust growth in St. John, we expect that to grow,” she said.

Once a veteran comes to the VA Clinic for primary care services, they could be referred to a VA Hospital, or even have more serious medical needs filled locally with the Veterans Administration paying area providers.”