Fall is finally officially here and I certainly enjoy the cooler weather especially when I am walking the District’s neighborhoods and talking to you, my constituents. I always enjoy chatting with the folks I meet and hearing your thoughts on how we can improve the lives of our fellow Virginians and especially our veterans.
In this short update, in addition to some upcoming events and significant military anniversaries of 1-15 October, there is an article on the Sitter & Barfoot 10th Anniversary at which I spoke, some recent veteran suicide statistics from the VA, and some additional information on the two new Veteran Care Centers slated to open in late 2019.
Sitter & Barfoot 10th Anniversary/Two New Veteran Care Centers
On 20 September I was honored to join Ms. Robyn Jennings, Facility Administrator, and Department of Veteran Services Director, John Newby in celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the opening of the Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center. It took a long time for the Commonwealth to get this facility built. I was pleased to be a part of the process since 1997 when we first started planning for another facility to care for veterans. This care center is in addition to the Roanoke Veterans Care Center which opened in 1992.
Delegate Cox speaking at the 10th anniversary celebration.
Delegate Cox with the dedicated staff of Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center.
Since opening on 26 September, 2007, Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center has provided long term care and rehabilitative care for eligible veterans. The 160 bed facility, co-located with McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, has a 40 bed addition that opened in 8 July 2015 and is one of the most “state of the art” facilities in the nation. The facility provides skilled nursing care and has a secure Alzheimer’s/dementia unit. I was honored to speak at the opening of the facility in September of 2007 and to again speak at the opening of the addition in 2015.
The Care Center is named for two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients: Colonel Van T. Barfoot and Colonel Carl L. Sitter. Barfoot was awarded the Medal of Honor as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army for extraordinary heroism in the face of pointblank fire on May 23, 1944, near Carano, Italy. Sitter received the Medal of Honor as a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corp where he was the commanding officer in an action against enemy aggressor forces at Hagaru-ri, Korea, on November 29 and 30, 1950. Col. Carl Sitter died in 2000 and Col. Van Barfoot died in 2012.
Artists rendition of new veterans care centers.
I am also proud to be a part of our two newest Veterans Care Centers. In 2006 I carried legislation that authorized Virginia to fund its share of a new Care Center in Hampton Roads and in 2013 again carried legislation for a new Care Center in Northern Virginia. My 2015 bills (HB1275 and HB1276) allocated Virginia Public Building Authority Bonds for funding Veterans Care Centers in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, respectively.
Department of Veterans Affairs funding continued to be an issue so in 2016 we tried something different. We proposed to build the two new care centers using just state funds and the bonds to build the two care centers were approved through my bill HB477.
Work will begin on the two new 128 bed care centers late this year. The new Puller Veterans Care Center will be on the former Vint Hill Farms Station in Fauquier County and ground breaking will be on 26 October. The new Jones & Cabacoy center will be built in the Princess Anne area of Virginia Beach and ground breaking is scheduled for 1 November. They are both scheduled for completion in late 2019.
Virginia Veteran Suicide Statistics
September 10-16th was Suicide Prevention Week and September is National Suicide Awareness Month. As most of you are painfully aware, suicide rates among veterans is well above the National average and deserves everyone’s attention. For more information on identifying signs and other resources to include the crisis line, click here.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) conducted the Nation’s most comprehensive analysis of Veteran suicide rates in the United States. The resulting report, released in 2016, examined more than 55 million records from 1979 to 2014 in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Data from the report allowed them to examine Veteran suicide rates in each state and region. For detailed Virginia and National rates for 2014 click here.
Groundbreaking Ceremony for Puller VCC, Vint Hill, Fauquier County
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Veterans Care Center to be named after the Puller Family will be held at 1:00 p.m. on 26 October (Vint Hill Pkwy and MacIntosh Dr, Warrenton VA 20187). For more information on this care center and the Puller Family Legacy, click here.
Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Jones & Cabacoy VCC in Virginia Beach
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Veterans Care Center to be named after Medal of honor awardee Air Force Colonel William A. Jones, III and Army Staff Sgt. Christopher F. Cabacoy will be held at 1:00 p.m. on 26 October (Nimmo Pkwy and West Neck Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456). For more information on this care center and the two service members for which it is named, click here.
Art of War Expo
The Virginia War Memorial will hold an expo from Friday 13 October through Friday 27 October which spotlights military art in various and diverse forms, from printing, photography, tattoos, film and theater to name just a few. For more information and schedule click here.
Military History Anniversaries
For those interested in Military History, items of interest for 1-15 October can be found here.
In closing, you can contact me at my district office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 804-526-5135, by US mail – PO Box 1205, Colonial Heights, VA 23834 – or by stopping by my Colonial Heights office at 250B East Ellerslie Avenue. I appreciate your views on legislation that will help me do a better job for the people I represent.
Please visit my Facebook page and my Twitter page. These pages, along with my website, have information/links to the 2017 General Assembly Session to include my 44 pieces of legislation, visitors’ photos, my legislative survey, videos of floor remarks, and related topics.
Please forward this Update to your fellow veteran friends and neighbors.