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County celebrates opening of VA Clinic
sj VA
A formal ribbon cutting ceremony was hosted by the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors to officially open the Richard A. Pittman VA Clinic in French Camp. Photo Contributed

In a day that has been decades in the making, on Thursday, April 25, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors joined more than 1,000 local residents to celebrate the opening of the Richard A. Pittman VA Clinic in French Camp. The clinic is the first phase of a VA campus in the community that will include residential treatment and specialty care.

Members of the board noted that the celebration would not have been possible without the diligent and steady work of County staff who worked alongside federal partners at the VA to ensure that the voices of local veterans were heard and heeded.

“On behalf of the entire San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, I want to say thank you to the veterans of our community, who have tirelessly advocated for this facility over the past twenty years; we have been a proud partner with you and consider it an honor to have stood behind you in relentless pursuit of this goal,” Board Chairman Miguel Villapudua said at the ceremony. “With approximately 32,000 veterans in San Joaquin County, with many more in surrounding areas, French Camp is an ideal location of this new clinic, which will allow our veterans, Villapudua also said “our community and our natin” remain in debt to veterans, who took their oaths and commitment to their country seriously.

“Finally, I want to say thank you to the former elected officials, County Supervisors, and staff who laid the groundwork for today’s accomplishment in quiet dedication to their work, we hope this is just the start of better care for our veterans, throughout the Valley and Foothills.”

Beginning in 2003, when the VA announced a realignment of care for veterans in Northern California, the county board has worked with local veterans to understand their needs and help communicate those needs and desires to the VA staff and leadership. This included surveying local veterans to see where they would like a local facility to be located, presentations and testimony at the CARES hearings, local advocacy, and working with federal agencies to ensure that the property could be purchased and used as desired.

Supervisor Robert Rickman, in reflecting on the progress so far, and looking to the work ahead, commented, “The Board’s continuous goal throughout this process has been simple; we need local care for local heroes. No veteran’s access to the care they have earned and deserve should be hampered by location. We will continue to fight for the build out of the VA residential care facility to allow our local veterans access to rehabilitation and nursing home care in our local community, where they are surrounded by loved ones.”