The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday celebrated the opening of the South Central VA Wellness Center, the first stand-alone clinic focused on mental health services for veterans in the El Paso region.

The $15 million, 24,000-square-foot facility is expected to serve about 40,000 veterans in its first year of operation, according to a news release. It will free up space in the 25-year-old VA facility next to William Beaumont Army Medical Center.

“Space has been a major challenge in the expansion of medical services and increasing access to health care for veterans,” Michael Amaral, director of the El Paso VA Health Care System, said in a statement. “The South Central VA Wellness Center is the first domino in our plan to expand and provide a wider variety of services and more timely care to our veterans.”

The new clinic is at 5130 Gateway East in the Medical Center of the Americas, a 440-acre campus that encompasses Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, University Medical Center of El Paso and the Cardwell Collaborative. Developing the medical park is a decades-long project being guided by the MCA Foundation.

“The South Central VA Wellness Center is a crucial component to the El Paso medical community, and more importantly, it meets a critical need for our veteran population,” said Emma Schwartz, president of the Medical Center of Americas Foundation.

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