Created: 04/25/2014 6:33 PM KAALtv.com
(ABC 6 News) -- After pushing for it for years, Albert Lea has finally opened its own VA Clinic and hundreds gathered for its grand opening Friday.
"We have veterans that have a need. We as a county need to fulfil it. Now let’s work together to get it done," said Rep. Tim Walz.
Though it took some patience, the day has finally come. Albert Lea now has its own a VA Clinic. Something veterans in the area say is long overdue. "We talked for quite a few years that it would never happen, and it did!" said veteran Bill Christenson.
It means a great deal to vets in the area. Before their closest clinics were in Rochester, Mankato, or the Twin Cities. "In some cases, veterans spend an hour, an hour and a half, in a vehicle to an appointment that lasts maybe 10 minutes," said Freeborn County Veterans Service Officer Ron Reule. Now, this resource is just down the road for many of these veterans.
"We will always be there to protect those freedoms and when you get back home we'll stand with you to make sure this facility provides you with the best possible care you can get," said Rep. Walz
Those with the VA said at Friday’s event that they've never seen a crowd so big for a clinic grand opening, "We had a very large turnout for this afternoon so the community support has been above and beyond what I expected," said Reule.
This turnout demonstrated the regions dedication to their service men. "This means a great deal to all veterans of course," said Christenson.
“This is here to stay. This is for good. This is for future generations. This is a part of the community," said Rep. Walz.
The Albert Lea VA Clinic is officially open for business. People were already able to schedule appointments right there on the tour.