New Orleans VAMC to break ground

American Legion Past National Commander William Detweiler and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki are among the dignitaries scheduled to attend Friday's groundbreaking for the 1.7-million square-feet New Orleans VA Medical Center. The ceremonies begin at 10 a.m.; Detweiler is scheduled to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also are scheduled to attend the ceremony that kicks off construction of the facility, which replaces the VA hospital nearly destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans veterans have since relied on outpatient clinics, leased spaces and arrangements with local hospitals or VA facilities in distant cities for their medical care.

"Building this hospital is not only about restoring and improving health-care services for southeast Louisiana veterans. It's about rebuilding New Orleans, rebuilding lives and rebuilding hope," Julie Catellier, director of the New Orleans VAMC, said. "Veterans have been so patient, and their patience will be rewarded. The collaborative efforts of veterans; local, state and federal lawmakers; VA employees and community leaders is beginning to come to fruition. We are beginning with a shovel of dirt and will finish with a world-class health-care facility which our veterans and the entire region can be proud of."

To learn more about the construction project, click here.