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HELLER: Holding the VA’s feet to the fire finally pays off

There is not a single member on the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs who does not know about Pahrump, Nevada. I know because I have been talking about Pahrump for years.

Since my early days representing Nevada's 2nd Congressional District to last week's VA Clinic groundbreaking, the 6,000 veterans in Pahrump and 9,000 in Nye County have been on my mind. The wait for a VA clinic was long and difficult – I know because I've been fighting tooth and nail alongside Nevada veterans through the unnecessary bureaucratic barriers at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

My fellow Nevadans, I am proud to have worked on this issue with you to hold the VA's feet to the fire. As always, I'm amazed by how strong our veteran community is, and this clinic is a perfect example of what we can accomplish together for the good of those who served our nation and sacrificed on our behalf.

Just to give everyone an idea of the struggle it was to get this clinic – veterans in Pahrump have been working on this since 2006. That's 10 years and three hospital directors later. After the clinic was finally approved in 2014, it took another year simply to award a contract and another six months just to get to the groundbreaking.

For years, I have been constantly asking the VA about the Pahrump clinic in Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearings, letters to the VA, meetings with Secretary McDonald and phone calls to the Las Vegas hospital director.

It should never have taken this long, but persistence from all of us has paid off. My work on this project is far from done. You can count on me to continue pushing the VA to ensure this clinic is built as quickly as possible and that staff is put in place so veterans can start receiving their care. Special thank yous go to Congressman Cresent Hardy, Senator Pete Goicoechea, Assemblyman James Oscarson, Bernie Cusimano, Hollis Harris, Commandant Ed Cima, and Commanders Yvonne Hillier, Tom Vick and Carl Jones for all they have done to make this clinic a reality.

The message is clear. To those Nye County veterans who continue to make the nearly 70-mile trek to Las Vegas for care: the backhoes are moving, shovels are in hand and construction on your very own VA clinic has begun. Each and every one of you will soon have better access to the care you so rightly deserve.

And, let me say to all those working on this project – we are expecting construction of this clinic to happen in a timely manner so Nevada heroes can start receiving the care they have earned and deserve. There is nothing more rewarding than a project like the Pahrump VA Clinic – something that helps our nation's veterans.

In the past 15 years, Pahrump, Nevada has grown from a small town outside of Las Vegas to a community of 36,000. I am proud to say I have had the opportunity to represent Pahrump and its veteran community during my time in Congress, and I look forward to all that we can accomplish together in the future.

Republican Dean Heller is a U.S. senator from Nevada. He currently serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, where he advocates for issues impacting Nevada's veterans.

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