Salem VA Medical Center celebrates 85 years of providing health care to local veterans


SALEM, Va. (WFXR) – Cheers to 85 years!

Since 1934, the Salem VA Medical Center has been improving the health of more than 78,000 men and women who have proudly served our country, living in 26 counties and 13 independent cities in Southwest Virginia. On Saturday, October 19, they plan on commemorating a major milestone in their facility’s history.

Community members are invited to attend a celebration on campus to commemorate their 85th anniversary of providing free services to those who have borne the battle.

“Utilizing the VA Medical Center is important. Many of our health care providers are veterans themselves so veterans that are coming to the Salem VA Medical Center or a medical center located in another area, veterans are able to have an understanding that our health care providers understand what they have been through,” says Brett Robbins, Public Affairs Officer at Salem VA Medical Center.

With over 200 acres of land, the medical center has seen a lot of change over the past 85 years.

The facility was originally designed as a neuro-psychiatric hospital to accommodate Veterans with respiratory or mental health problems. In the 1960s, the medical center shifted practices to general medicine and surgical care.

The VA Medical Center is also the only facility in the country to be commissioned by a sitting president.

“President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived by train in Roanoke. He came to the medical center and delivered a commissioning address to more than 25,000 people that were from the community,” says Robbins.

With 445 acres of property, the medical center proved to be self-sustaining, developing live-in cottages for nurses, keeping their own livestock, and growing crops to feed patients and staff members.

Many historical artifacts are on display at Building 2, which ranges from original newspaper articles to donated uniforms by local Veterans.

Saturday’s big celebration is not only important to Veterans they serve, but also the employees at the medical center.

“A lot of our staff have been here for more than 40 years and this is a place that they have called their second home,” says Robbins.

What’s in store for the next 85 years? Officials at the facility simply say they hope to continue delivering exceptional healthcare to Veterans.

The free-admission celebration will be held at the soccer complex in front of the Salem VA Medical Center from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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