ORLANDO, Fla. —Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs came under heavy scrutiny for poor service across America.
Long lines meant a number of veterans died while they waited for treatment. Since that time, the agency underwent major changes.
On Thursday, the Lake Baldwin facility, now run by the state, reopened its domiciliary.
"Today is a very special day for Central Florida veterans," said U.S. Rep. John Mica.
Mica spent the past two years working to reopen the facility. It closed after the opening of the new Orlando VA Center in Lake Nona. But, with approximately 400,000 veterans throughout Central Florida, Mica said there was a great need to reopen.
"We will have 160 beds with the reopening of this facility,” said Mica. “Both with the 56 here and 60 down at Lake Nona for our veterans and then another 40 beds with Pathways to Care. So, for the first time, we can say in Central Florida that we haven't left our veterans behind."
Matthew Fredette is a Cold War combat veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He said the VA is the main reason he's on the road to recovery.
"I heard from Connecticut that this was the best facility in the United States for me with my PTSD,” Fredette said. “The staff here is a wonderful bunch of people. They have nursed me back to health.”
While the move is a step in the right direction, Mica said there is more work to be done.
"We plan next year to hopefully open a 120-bed nursing facility adjacent here, which has been vacant for two years," said Mica.