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Northern Virginia Veterans Center to be built at Vint Hill

“To care for him [and in 21st century America, her] who shall have borne the battle….”
President Abraham Lincoln
Second Inaugural Address

I am pleased.

On June 1st, my number one project for military veterans who live in Northern Virginia moved one step closer to reality. On that date at American Legion Post 176 in Springfield, House Bill (HB) 477, on which I served as chief co-patron along with House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights) and House Majority Whip Jackson H. Miller (R-Manassas), was signed into law by the governor. This puts us on the road to reality for constructing the Northern Virginia Veterans Care Center.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I was also pleased to support insertion of funding in the two-year Virginia state budget that takes effect on July 1st of this year.

The announced location will be at the site of the Vint Hills Farm Station, which was a joint United States Army and National Security Agency signals intelligence and electronic warfare facility located in Fauquier County, near Warrenton.

For the better part of the last two years, this has been my number one project as chair of the General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus, our legislative clearing house for bills that affect the quality of life for 800,000 veterans who call Virginia home.

Three Northern Virginia localities competed for the project, including Prince William County, Stafford County, and Fauquier County. Since last summer, I have been working with Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart, his Board, and the county staff to identify a minimum of 25 acres to be donated to the Commonwealth of Virginia. This was a requirement in order for a locality to enter the competitive selection process, and Prince William County donated a total of 27 acres along Ashton Avenue in Manassas.

From 2015 to the present, the Virginia Department of Veterans Services conducted a rigorous analysis in order to identify the opportune location for Northern Virginia veterans. While I would have preferred that the Veterans Care Center be located in Prince William County, I am pleased with the Fauquier County location for several reasons.

First the Fauquier County location is only 13 miles west of the Ashton Avenue location. Second, it is only located a matter of yards outside of Prince William County. Third, it is more centrally located to serve Virginia veterans west of Manassas. And fourth, Fauquier County generously donated 30 acres of land for construction, with the possibility for an additional eight acres. This potential total of 38 acres means that the facility will be able to expand in future years to care for increasing numbers of Northern Virginia veterans.

I was especially pleased by the bipartisan cooperation in this program across both political parties and both houses of the General Assembly. In 2015, Majority Leader Cox and I carried an initial bill in the House, and Sen. George L. Barker (D-Fairfax) and Sen. Toddy Puller carried a companion bill in the Senate. In January and February of this year, during the 2016 legislative session of the General Assembly, Majority Leader Cox, Majority House Whip Miller, and I carried the bill together, and a number of legislators on both sides of the aisle signed onto the bill.

I was particularly pleased that the Center will be named for a storied Marine family, consisting of Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller, his son Lewis B/ Puller, Jr., and Mr. Puller’s wife, former Virginia Senator Toddy Puller.

Plans currently project the opening of the Center in late 2019. It will have beds for 120 veterans and employ a staff of more than 150 people. The annual budget would be as much as $25 million, which will be a significant stimulus to the Northern Virginia economy.

The Center will join a network of two other Centers, one in Roanoke and the other in Richmond. Sometime in the next month, an announcement will be made about the location of a future fourth center in Hampton Roads. This will expand the network of Virginia Veterans Care Centers to a full four facilities.

Del. Rich Anderson is a retired 30-year Air Force colonel who represents the 51st House District (Prince William County) in the Virginia General Assembly. He chairs the General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus and also chairs the House Committee on Science and Technology.


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