Dallas, El Paso veterans’ facilities will get $442 million in upgrades

American flags outside the Doris Miller Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Waco. President Joe Biden signed a bill into law on Tuesday that will direct more than $442 million in upgrades to Veteran Affairs health care facilities in Dallas and El Paso. (Jordan Vonderhaar For Texas Tribune, Jordan Vonderhaar For Texas Tribune)

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President Joe Biden signed on Monday a bipartisan bill — championed by U.S. Reps. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, and Jake Ellzey, R-Waxahachie — that will direct more than $442 million in upgrades to Veterans Affairs health care facilities in Dallas and El Paso.

Both Allred and Ellzey are members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The improvements the bill will pay for include a 30-bed long-term care facility for spinal cord injuries in Dallas and an entirely new health care facility in El Paso.

The Dallas project is estimated to cost $293 million. The El Paso facility will cost about $150 million.

“Investing in VA medical facilities in Texas and across the country is a common-sense thing we can do to ensure our veterans get the best quality health care in their community while strengthening local economies,” Allred said in a statement.

The money allocated to the Dallas VA facility will essentially change the medical center from a short-term inpatient to a long-term spinal cord injury treatment center. A typical inpatient spinal cord injury patient’s treatment lasts roughly four to six weeks.

The VA currently provides spinal cord injury treatment to roughly 27,000 veterans through 25 treatment centers across the U.S. The Dallas center will help treat the population of Texas veterans.

Nearly 1.4 million veterans reside in Texas, the largest state veteran population in the country.

In El Paso, veterans make up 8.2% of the local population. Of the 15 active duty military installations in the state, El Paso hosts one of the largest with the Army base Fort Bliss.

While the area already has a VA clinic, the new facility will expand the services available to the community.

The expansion of the VA services in Texas bucks what has been a national trend. Earlier this year, the VA announced that 35 facilities would close or need restructuring. No VA facilities in Texas were affected.

Correction, Oct. 11, 2022: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a new law channeling funds to veterans' facilities in Texas was signed by President Joe Biden on Tuesday. He signed it on Monday.