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Veterans, officials and Airmen break ground on VA hospital

Singing the national anthem at the ground-breaking ceremony are Paige O'Hanlon, a veteran, and Staff Sgt. James Alston, 460th Operations Support Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erika Brooke)

Singing the national anthem at the ground-breaking ceremony are Paige O'Hanlon, a veteran, and Staff Sgt. James Alston, 460th Operations Support Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erika Brooke)

Col. Michael Chyrek, 460th Medical Group commander, says a few words about the importance of the hospital to both veterans and active-duty military during the groundbreaking. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erika Brooke)

Col. Michael Chyrek, 460th Medical Group commander, says a few words about the importance of the hospital to both veterans and active-duty military during the groundbreaking. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erika Brooke)

State representatives, Buckley Air Force Base and veterans affairs leadership, as well as veterans themselves, break ground on a new, state-of-the-art Veterans Affairs Medical Center Aug. 22. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erika Brooke)

State representatives, Buckley Air Force Base and veterans affairs leadership, as well as veterans themselves, break ground on a new, state-of-the-art Veterans Affairs Medical Center Aug. 22. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erika Brooke)

AURORA, Colo. -- State representatives, Buckley Air Force Base and Veterans Affairs leadership, as well as veterans themselves, gathered Aug. 22 to celebrate the ground breaking on a new, state-of-the-art Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The center, which is a joint venture between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department, will house a new 460th Medical Group primary care clinic.

"This has been a culmination of a lot of effort for the past 9 to 10 years to achieve this joint venture," said Col. Michael Chyrek, 460th Medical Group commander. "Now the goal is in sight."

The goal includes a 1.1 million square foot facility on 31 acres, which according to Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter, who spoke at the groundbreaking, will be the "finest medical campus in the United States of America."

"The intent of this joint venture is to provide more services and increase access for our beneficiaries," said Capt. Josh Curtis, 460th Medical Group executive officer. "Our interoperability will provide more of a single point of care."

The joint venture will also allow for a lifetime of care, following a member from active duty through their retirement years.

Col. Chyrek explained currently, active duty members are cared for under one system - once they leave the military they are in a completely different system in which they often feel lost. With the new joint venture, they would still receive care at the same medical facility.

"This is a great step forward to find that balance between our active duty and VA capabilities," said Capt. Curtis.

This joint venture won't change the process for Team Buckley members however.

"Active duty and dependents will first see active duty primary care managers," said Capt. Curtis. "It will still work in the way active duty is used to, but specialty care that beneficiaries now expect to be referred out to another facility for will likely have that same specialty care available to them within the same facility. That is one of the major benefits that this joint venture will provide."
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