Officials break ground on new VA research facility

Health

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Construction on a new VA research facility got underway with a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, and officials said it was only fitting to start this new chapter so close to Veterans Day.

The Jonathan H. Harwood Army Reserve Center on Niagara Street in Providence will be fully renovated and 7,200 square feet of new space will be constructed.

Dr. Susan MacKenzie, director of the Providence VA Medical Center, said the new facility will develop ways to help veterans get through a variety of health concerns.

“Improving care by facilitating research into areas such as long-term care, neurotechnology, cardiopulmonary health, rehabilitation, mental health and post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse – the mission of this new facility once we have it up and running,” she said.

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse were also on hand for Friday’s event.

The $12 million project includes site improvements such as a new parking lot, landscaping for the grounds, and security upgrades. The new facility is scheduled to open in fall 2020.

Officials say the facility will retain its current name. A native of Rhode Island, Capt. Jonathan Hartwell Harwood Jr. served with the 293rd Signal Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion, and was killed in action on June 7, 1944, on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) says it’s the largest health care system in the United States, “providing care at 1,255 health care facilities including 170 VA Medical Centers and 1,074 outpatient sites to over 9 million veterans enrolled in the VA health care program.”

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