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Kingston: Area VA clinic opening delayed
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., updates residents Tuesday on a proposed veterans clinic for Hinesville during a town hall meeting at the Liberty County School System’s Performing Arts Center. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
During a town hall meeting held Tuesday in Liberty County, U.S. Congressman Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said the anticipated 2013 opening of a permanent Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatient clinic in Hinesville has been “postponed.”
“It’s going slower than we wanted,” Kingston said. “The permanent clinic for Hinesville was (initially) going to be a smaller clinic now it’s going to be a bigger one.”
Michael Dukes, a VA spokesman with the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, S.C., has said the permanent clinic will be about 25,000 square feet when completed.
Kingston said a temporary “storefront” veterans’ clinic should open in the local area in 2011. The permanent clinic should open in late 2013 or 2014, he said. Locations for the temporary and permanent clinics have not yet been announced.
As for efforts to offset the economic impact caused by the loss of a 5th brigade at Fort Stewart, the congressman said work is still being done “behind the scenes.”
“We’re not finished,” he said. Kingston said he and U.S. senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, and others such as Congressman John Barrow, D-Ga., continue to meet with Pentagon and Department of Defense officials.
Paul Andreshak, executive director of Friends of Liberty & Fort Stewart (FOL&FS), said Kingston is still trying to acquire more funding to help lessen the local area’s economic burden caused by the cancelled brigade. He said more will be known once the Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership study is released.
Kingston reiterated that the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) has a remediation budget of $125 million to distribute to communities across the nation impacted by military base closures and realignments. Hinesville and surrounding communities will receive $40 million of that total, he said.
“Many of you have been involved in (receiving) that money,” Kingston said. “I’m disappointed some of that money couldn’t be used for the private sector.”
He explained OEA’s policy is to grant remediation funds to public – not private – entities.
So far, 27 different projects have been submitted to OEA from local government entities, Kingston said. Eighteen have been approved, he confirmed.
Kingston added both he and his pro-military allies – Republicans and Democrats – are also working to bring additional troops to Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield. He said the large scale construction being completed on the installation will not stand as “empty shells” but are intended to house more soldiers.

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