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Disabled Counseling Center Comes to Twin Cities

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. James B. Peake, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to open a unique vocational counseling center for disabled veterans.

"Working with the Paralyzed Veterans of America, this center is yet another partnership that recognizes the importance of our veterans," Peake said. "Providing timely benefits and access to resources to veterans sets the stage for their future success."

The new facility at the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building will help active-duty military personnel and veterans with severe disabilities obtain productive employment. Operated by the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and staffed by a PVA counselor, it will serve about 100 veterans this year.

The St. Paul facility is only the second of its kind in the nation. The first PVA counseling center opened last July in Richmond, Va. Similar centers are planned for California and Texas.

"PVA works 24/7 to ensure that our veterans with disabilities have access to everything they need to thrive -- and a good job is an essential part of being able to thrive," said PVA National President Randy L. Pleva, Sr. "Thank you VA for your partnership in this exciting project to help empower our paralyzed veterans."

The counseling center will work closely with VA's new Spinal Cord Injury Center, under construction at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. That $21 million facility, scheduled to open in early 2009, will provide life-long comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care to veterans with spinal cord injuries and disorders.

VA, which manages the nation's largest integrated health care system, expects to treat patients in about 800,000 hospitalizations and 60 million outpatient visits this year.

In Minnesota, the Department expects to spend more than $1.5 billion this year on behalf of the state's 408,000 veterans. VA operates major medical centers in Minneapolis and St. Cloud, eight community-based outpatient clinics and two Vet Centers.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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