Dozens of excited veterans, elected officials and military personnel gathered at Fort Rucker on Friday to celebrate the opening of a new veterans’ hospital.
Col. Michael Kaminski, commander of the Army Aero Medical Center said, "Red tape, bureaucracy, more red tape; but it is possible to cut through it. We can break through it with teamwork. We'll make it happen.”
Most of the red tape that Col. Kaminski is referring to is funding, but in working hard with CAVHCS officials, they have made this dream a reality for thousands of Wiregrass veterans.
Dr. William Ratliff, with CAVHCS said, “The colonel was dedicated to removing all of the barriers you know, the barriers in access problems, making sure they get on the base, parking and he did it all!”
Kaminski was awarded on Friday’s ceremony for his efforts, but he says no one deserves more credit or put forth more effort than Veteran Wilbur Sillivent, who Kaminski says was his inspiration for the entire project.
Veteran Sullivent said, "All the veterans and the hospital commander; I'm glad to make it work. A lot of people asked me to do it and I’m tickled pink that we got it done."
"The veterans would have wanted the clinic yesterday, and of course it's frustrating when you can't get it to them yesterday. But, we've done an outstanding job in moving up quickly. I was just telling you soldiers volunteered to get this thing painted and get it ready. It's all part of teamwork.”
Sullivant had a chance to be the first patient in the new outpatient clinic. Everyone thought that was fitting, looking at the role he played in its existence.
The Veterans Healthcare System has received an additional $2.9 million dollars to renovate the upper floors at Lyster.