Good morning, everyone!
Dr. Petzel, thank you for that kind introduction. Your leadership has been instrumental in shaping the future of patient- centered care for all Veterans in this country. Thank you for your devotion to them.
This is a great day for VA! A great day for Nevada and for Las Vegas! And, most importantly, a great day for the men and women who wear and have worn the uniforms of our Nation, their families, and our survivors. I am honored to welcome so many who have been vital to the delivery of this beautiful, new hospital. I can't acknowledge everyone. Let me just recognize: Senator Reid, Senator Heller, Congresswoman Berkley: Thank you for being here today. To Senator Reid and Congresswoman Berkley—you were here when ground was broken on this remarkable project in 2006. Your commitment to provide Veterans and service members of southern Nevada access to high-quality, state-of-the-art healthcare has been crucial to delivering today's magnificent result! I thank you, and all the Members of Congress, for the leadership, determination, and unwavering commitment over many years to deliver a project of this magnitude.
Major General Jeff Lofgren, Commander, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, Nellis Air Force Base;
Honored members of the Paiute Nation, who blessed this ground in January 2006 and who are here again today to witness what goodness we have brought to their blessing. Thank you;
Colleagues from the Bureau of Land Management, who made this land available—a first transfer of this kind in BLM history;
Katherine Miller, Deputy Director, Nevada Office of Veterans Services;
Mayors Shari Buck, North Las Vegas, and Carolyn Goodman, Las Vegas;
Stan Johnson, Director, VISN 22, and his predecessor, Ron Norby;
John Bright, our superb medical center director, and his predecessor, John Hempel;
Representatives of our several Veterans Service Organizations—you have reason to be proud of what we are dedicating here today. Your volunteer services will be an important part of its daily operations;
Fellow Veterans, other distinguished guests, VA colleagues, ladies and gentlemen:
We gather, today, to open a large and expensive building complex. Yes, we do. But it's really more than that. We dedicate a 21st century healthcare center of excellence—cutting edge technology—VA's first new medical center in 17 years. But again, it's even much more than just that. This is, importantly, a promise kept with the 164,000 Veterans who live in Clark, Nye, and Lincoln Counties, and all 234,000 Veterans who call Nevada home, as well as Veterans from surrounding states who will find here the care and compassion they seek. This is about promise-making and promise-keeping, and in this country that counts for a lot. As President Obama recently told the Veterans of Foreign Wars, "We keep our promises."
Now look, a construction contract of this nature and scope is a massive undertaking. Only through the diligence and determination of John Bright and his team, the dedication and resourcefulness of VA's construction and engineering office, and the competence of cooperative contractors is today's dedication possible. We learned a great deal from Las Vegas, and other projects currently underway will benefit.
More than 40 years have gone by since the war in Vietnam, and those Americans who served there are increasingly in need of healthcare. They will find it here in North Las Vegas.
This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Korean War. Veterans of Pusan, Inchon, and Chosin Reservoir require the advanced healthcare services that we provide. They will find it here in North Las Vegas.
And in numbers not seen before or since, 16 million young Americans stepped up to answer liberty's call to save the world at a dark time in human history—70 years ago in World War II. These lions in winter need the healthcare VA provides. They will find it here in North Las Vegas.
These Veterans, those who have served most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all who have served the Nation in war and restless peace will find the care they have earned—here, in North Las Vegas.
This impressive facility—151 acres; 1.3 million square feet, including ten acres of solar panels which will generate up to 3.3 megawatts of power—is dedicated to one single purpose: providing the highest quality and safest healthcare possible to the men and women who have safeguarded our Nation and our way of life. This is one more installment on the debt of gratitude we owe each and every Veteran.
More than just brick and mortar, this medical center contains the finest surgical suites—48 medical and surgical beds, 20 ICU and step-down beds. It provides compassionate mental health care—22 inpatient beds. It houses the best rehabilitation care facilities. It provides extended care services—a women's clinic, hyperbaric chambers, a hybrid CT scanner, tele-home healthcare, post-traumatic stress and homeless Veterans programs; a nursing home; patient education services; and an on-site Veterans benefits field office—right here, within the walls of this world-class medical center.
Notwithstanding all these physical dimensions and capabilities, let me tell you that this medical center does not operate itself. It does not turn on its lights; it does not perform X-Rays and CT scans; it does not perform lifesaving surgery. It does not comfort nor grieve; it does not provide hope nor calm fears—for that you will have to turn to the equally dedicated men and women who consider the privilege of serving America's heroes their distinct honor.
They are the heartbeats of this grand, new hospital. They are the ones capable of providing comfort, care, hope, and encouragement to the lions of World War II and of every winter since. This is what our Veterans, our serving military, their families, and our survivors will find here. And of this, I am mighty proud. John Bright, you have built a great team. Thank you on behalf of everyone who will find care and comfort here within these walls.
God bless the men and women who serve and have served our Nation in uniform. And may God continue to bless this great country of ours.