The Department of Veteran Affairs broke ground on a new outpatient clinic in Georgetown Friday.
The new clinic is an expansion of the current Sussex County Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Georgetown and will eventually replace that facility entirely.
David Scosik is a Vietnam veteran and president of the Delaware Veterans Coalition -an organization that advocates for veterans. He hopes the expansion will improve wait times and make it easier for veterans to get appointments.
“We need to have more doctors, nurses and counselors available to help these folks because the rate of suicide is just unacceptable. More than 20 a day, according to the figures I can see … veterans are killing themselves," Scosik said.
He said many veterans are frustrated with the online appointment-scheduling system the VA uses in Delaware.
Wilmington VA Medical Center Director Robin C. Aube-Warren said the clinic expansion is in response to a growing number of vets in Sussex County.
"The number of vets the clinic serves has increased by 27 percent in the past five years. And we expect another 8 percent increase by 2021." Aube-Warren said.
The clinic served 3,486 vets from From 2014 to 2015 -the latest year data is available. And counted 18,264 individual visits.
There are currently 80,000 veterans in Delaware, making up a 9th of the state’s population.
The expanded clinic will have improved waiting areas, more exam rooms, and additional space for support groups.
Aube-Warren expects the clinic to open by the end of 2016.