Rome lab, VA clinic get $2M shot in the arm

Nearly $2 million in federal stimulus money will pay for improvements at the Air Force Research Laboratory and veterans outpatient clinic in Griffiss business park.

The money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will result in temporary construction jobs.

The Lab is getting $881,000 for logistics facility roof repairs, according to Rep. Michael A. Arcuri, D-24, Utica. The lab, which operates in several buildings on the former Air Force base, has about 670 civilian and 60 military employees, plus approximately 520 non-government civilians working on site under Air Force contracts.

"Investments in facility improvements will enhance the quality of life for servicemen and women, and help meet the national security challenges of the 21st century," said Arcuri in a statement.

Slightly more than $1 million will be spent on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ facility, formally known as the Donald J. Mitchell Outpatient Clinic, at 125 Brookley Road for building renovations and modernization, and air handling unit upgrades and replacements.

The clinic has approximately 55 employees, according to Gordon Sclar, VA spokesman at the Syracuse VA Medical Center. There are about 36,000 clinic visits annually.

"Our veterans deserve nothing but the absolute best health care and services," the congressman said.

The clinic provides primary care services. It also processes new prescriptions, and offers chest, abdominal, and extremity X-rays. Some transportation services to the Syracuse VA Medical Center are available through a cooperative effort of the DAV and the clinic’s own shuttle service.

According to Arcuri, the VA received a total of $1.4 billion dollars through the Recovery Bill to stimulate the economy by making improvements to existing veterans’ programs, facilities and services.

In addition, the VA will make a one-time payment of $250 to eligible veterans and survivors to mitigate the effects of the current economy. VA estimates $700 million in payments will be made, beginning in June.

To be eligible for the $250 payment, VA beneficiaries must have received compensation, pension, dependency and indemnity compensation, or spina bifida benefits at any time between November 2008 and January. No application is necessary.