The VA is setting up a process to determine the clinic's exact location based on the local veterans population, access to transportation and other factors. In a letter to Murray and Larsen, Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Nicholson states that "the VISN [VA Northwest Network] has identified that the Mount Vernon area seems to be centrally located to improve access to care and reduce travel times in this 5-county area."
"For years, Northwest veterans have faced tremendous barriers to the care they deserve," Murray said. "Now we're bringing the finest medical care in the country closer to their doors."
"This is great news, and a long time coming," Larsen said. "Northwest Washington's veterans have traveled too far, for too long, to get the health care they need and deserve. This clinic will bring veterans health care closer to veterans."
Murray and Larsen have been pushing the VA for a new clinic for many years. Currently, local veterans have to spend hours in traffic to reach the VA medical center in Seattle. VA Secretary James Nicholson told Senator Murray and Rep. Larsen the news in a letter the day after Murray met with Nicholson to discuss the clinic and other veterans issues.
7/2002: Rep. Larsen introduces legislation H.R.5087 to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to implement a two-year pilot project for outpatient medical care in Northwest Washington.
9/04: Senator Murray and Rep. Larsen write to then VA Secretary Principi to advocate for a CBOC in Northwest Washington.
1/26/05: Senator Murray tells Secretary Nicholson at a hearing that a new clinic is needed in Northwest Washington.
4/06: Senator Murray and Congressman Larsen work with VA Northwest Network to submit an application to the VA for a CBOC in Northwest Washington.
7/06: During a visit to Bellingham, Secretary Nicholson makes an announcement suggesting that Northwest Washington will get a CBOC.
7/20/06: Murray presses Secretary Nicholson on the clinic's status at a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing.
7/30/06: Senator Murray inserts language into the FY 2007 Military Construction and VA Appropriations bill encouraging the VA to establish a clinic in Northwest Washington.
11/27/06: Senator Murray and Congressman Larsen write Secretary Nicholson to inquire about the status of Northwest Washington’s CBOC application.
1/30/07: Senator Murray meets with Secretary Nicholson and asks when the new clinic will be announced.
1/31/07: In a letter to Senator Murray and Rep. Larsen, Secretary Nicholson announces that a new clinic will be located in Mount Vernon and should be open in 12 months.