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Statement by Ken Elium, OFC Director of Field Operations on behalf of Federal Coordinator Douglas O'Dell, Announcing New VA Hospital in New Orleans

Release Date: November 25, 2008

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: Rebecca S. Cotton (202) 325-0197

On behalf of General O'Dell and all the staff in the Office of the Federal Coordinator, I want to start by thanking all of those participating in today's announcement - Deputy Secretary of Veteran's Affairs Gordon Mansfield; Mayor Ray Nagin; LSU President Dr. John V. Lombardi; Executive Director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority Paul Rainwater; and of course the Assistant Administrator for FEMA's Gulf Coast Recovery Office Jim Stark. Without each of you, and many dedicated staff and volunteers working diligently behind the scenes, this monumental announcement would not be taking place. Thank you.

Today is of great significance for the City of New Orleans and for the 55,000 veterans who call Southeast Louisiana home (and I am proud to count myself among their ranks). The announcement by our colleagues at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs brings to closure a collaborative and inclusive process involving Federal, state and local government, as well as stakeholders who determined the location of the new veterans hospital. Moreover, this announcement represents the President's steadfast and ongoing commitment to the people of the Gulf Coast, to providing access to quality health care, and to the men and women who have bravely served and worn this country's uniform.

The hospital is a key component of the city's vision of a revitalized downtown area and a world class medical campus, and it advances of the goal President Bush and Secretary Peake established for better access to quality healthcare for the needs of current and future veterans.

Now let me share a personal note from General O'Dell:

"The issue of veteran's health care is deeply personal and central to my professional convictions. As the son of an Army officer who served in during World War Two, and who suffered from the complications of having been a POW, I know first-hand the important and positive impact VA healthcare makes long-term in the lives of soldiers when they return home. As a veteran Marine, I am also keenly aware of the challenges that confront our current generation of wounded warriors, and finally, as a policy-maker and as the President's Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding, I also know first-hand that the final chapters in the recovery of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have yet to be written – but that when they are, they will bear the examples of the countless contributions veterans have and will continue to make in their respective communities."

Thank you all for your leadership and for your commitment to rebuilding America's Gulf Coast. Today is a proud day for the Gulf Coast and veterans everywhere.

Major General USMCR (Retired) Douglas O'Dell, Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding, statement read by Ken Elium, Sgt Major, USMC (Ret), OFC Director of Field Operations, November 25, 2008

The Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding has been engaged in facilitating and streamlining the recovery effort, providing key federal support and resources to state and local leaders, as well as reinforcing the federal government's commitment to the people of the Gulf Coast.



This page was last reviewed/modified on November 25, 2008.