HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - We have new details on big news for veterans in Huntsville. It's a story we were the first to tell you about in October 2013. Years of waiting turned into a morning of excitement. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new veterans affairs clinic.
Veterans Hospital managers in Birmingham estimate 70,000 veterans travel from Huntsville to their city for medical treatment every year. The managers believe opening a new clinic in Huntsville will ease the workload in Birmingham and relieve headaches for veterans here.
Veterans in north Alabama have talked about it for years with rumors of a clinic for the past decade. Many gathered under a tent to hear the facts.
“This is a great day. This is something we`ve planned well over five years,” said VA Hospital Birmingham Director Tom Smith.
Smith traveled north to Huntsville for the groundbreaking.
“This will allow us to consolidate two of our community-based outpatient clinics, the Madison and Huntsville clinics, into a beautiful 50,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility,” added Smith.
Army Veteran Billy Neal can't wait to see it.
“It`s going to be great since I live so close. It will be ultra-convenient. I won`t have to worry about driving 100 miles each way to and from Birmingham,” said Neal.
The Huntsville area is home to the VA hospital's fastest-growing veteran population.
Irving Lyles served 26 years in the Army. He has done a lot over the years and plans to do at least one more thing.
'Seeing this building erected. When it`s fixed, I will be here. I am hoping,” said Lyles.
The new clinic will do everything the others in the Huntsville area do plus a few specialized services now available only in Birmingham.
The news clinic is scheduled to open in the summer of 2015.