October 15, 2010, 08:00:00 AM
VA Tops $1B Mark in Recovery Act Distributions
Upgrades Include Energy Projects, Medical Facility Upgrades,
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has distributed more than $1 billion in funds made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, agency officials have announced. Recovery Act funding is being used to modernize and replace existing VA medical facilities, make improvements at national cemeteries and award grants to states for Veterans homes.
“America’s Veterans are getting more modern, efficient and greener facilities that are better suited to provide them the comprehensive care and service they have earned,” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said. “These upgrades are possible through Recovery Act funds that are not only revitalizing VA’s extensive infrastructure, but also moving needed money into the economy,” he said.
The funding is part of President Obama’s economic recovery plan to improve services to America’s Veterans. VA committed its total Recovery Act funds of $1.8 billion by July.
To help Veterans access their care, Recovery Act projects at VA medical facilities are adding or improving more than 26,000 parking spaces. VA is also upgrading nearly 14,000 inpatient bed spaces and 16 pharmacy renovation projects will help Veterans get medicines quicker and more efficiently. More than 14,400 clinical improvement projects, some with multiple exam rooms, are being undertaken.
Physical improvements to VA medical facilities include investments in energy efficiency projects; almost $400 million overall is targeted for energy projects and some $90 million for renewable energy studies and projects.
VA is installing solar photovoltaic systems at facilities in Albuquerque, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; Dublin, Ga.; Calverton, N.Y.; and San Joaquin and Riverside, Calif.
The department is erecting a wind turbine in Bourne, Mass., and constructing a geothermal system at its medical center in St. Cloud, Minn. Additionally, VA is building renewably fueled co-generation systems at five medical facilities: Togus, Maine; White River Junction, Vt.; Chillicothe, Ohio; Loma Linda, Calif.; and Canandaigua, N.Y. It is also installing metering systems at all VA-owned facilities to monitor energy utilities, including electricity, water, chilled water, steam and natural gas consumption.
VA is investing $197 million in energy and water infrastructure improvements. Its facilities across the country are upgrading properties and structures to reduce energy consumption and water usage and better manage related costs.
Throughout VA’s system of 131 national cemeteries, 392 improvement projects are underway using $50 million in Recovery Act funding. VA is restoring and preserving 47 historic monuments and memorials, becoming more energy efficient by investing in renewable energy sources (solar and wind), implementing nine energy conservation projects, and improving access and visitor safety with 44 road, paving and grounds improvement projects.
Funds are also being used to raise, realign and clean approximately 200,000 headstones and markers, repair sunken graves, and renovate turf at 24 VA national cemeteries.
VA Recovery Act grants totaling $150 million are also assisting states to construct, improve, or acquire nursing home, domiciliary or adult day health care facilities.
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