SLVHCS Veterans Medical Center Ribbon Cutting

Good morning. And a very good morning it is here in our great city as we gather for this historical event. We’re delighted you have
joined us on this very, very special day. My name is Fernando Rivera and I am privileged to serve as the director of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System which includes this new, state of the art medical center. This morning I am also honored to serve as your master of ceremonies as I feel as privileged to be here today as I do to work for each of you each and every day. At this time, those who are able to, I ask that you please stand as members of the joint services color guard present the colors and please remain standing until after the invocation. Color guard! Post the colors! Now, please welcome Miss Olivia Cooper,
a former nurse with the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, who will sing our national anthem. O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Miss Cooper. That was beautiful. Now Mr. Larry Jones
and Mr. Bill Detweiler, co-chairs of our MyVA Community Council, will lead us
in the pledge of allegiance. Hand salute.
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all. Order arms. Right face. Forward march. Thank you, Mr. Jones and Mr. Detweiler. It’s now my honor to invite the most
Reverend Gregory Aymond, archbishop of New Orleans, to give the invocation. Thank you. As we prepare to pray Let us pause for a moment to realize that at this moment in this place on this holy
ground, we are in God’s presence. Loving and faithful God. Each day you renew your love
in our hearts, and for this, we give you thanks. Today we ask your abundant blessings upon the Veterans medical center and all of this dream to become a reality. Lord, we ask you to give
healing to Veterans who come here in bodily weakness, make them strong in faith. Give
wisdom to the medical staff as they share in your healing ministry. And give courage
to all administrators and support staff that they will reach out to our Veterans and their
families in loving care. Lord, may all those who come here in illness know your comfort and be healed in body, in mind and in spirit. Bless and strengthen all Veterans as they have served our country. May they know your faithful love and in times of fear accept your gift of peace. We ask this as we ask all things in faith for you are God, living and reigning, forever and ever. Amen. Thank you archbishop Aymond. Please take your seats. From overcoming obstacles
to starting anew, ribbon cutting ceremonies have a long history. Our program today is a celebration, an awakening. We’re here today to formally celebrate the return of a VA Veterans medical center and bringing back hospital care to thousands of heroes who live
in southeast Louisiana and in the Gulf Coast region. It’s about building health care capacity and providing a full range of services to our Veterans in a medical center that is their own a medical center that they participated in from the beginning, driving the plans and the designs for the facility you will see today. This event is about honoring veterans for their service and sacrifice, keeping promise and restoring hope. Our ceremony today is a celebration for and about Veterans. So, at this time I want to recognize all of our veterans and military personnel in the audience. Will all of our Veterans and military personnel please stand. If you’re unable to stand or are already standing, please raise your hand. Thank you. We honor you. We treasure you. And we remember and appreciate your service and your sacrifice. Another group that certainly deserves recognition is the families of our Veterans because, in essence, you too have served and continue to serve. Many of you
have raised your children alone while your spouse was away on active duty. Some of you
are still serving as you care for your loved ones in need of health care and support. Families play a vital role in the well-being of our Veterans. You are all deserving of
such recognition for all that you do for your loved ones. I also want to recognize the VA team here in southeast Louisiana, because they do a remarkable job in meeting the health care needs of our Veterans. Many of these VA staff members were here during the storm a decade ago. Many left following the storm but have returned to finish the mission. And many others joined us recently, all serving with one purpose. They all have a labor of love for our patients and a strong commitment of service. We have a number of special guests in our audience this morning, too many to list by name, but every one of you played a role in bringing us here today. Without your hard work, your strong leadership, we would not be here today. You are forever our partners in this journey with a shared mission of caring for our nation’s heroes. Thank you all for being with us on this special occasion. This is indeed a very special day for many of us as it reflects the vibrant character and strength of New Orleans. As well as southeast Louisiana’s
commitment to our Veterans, it conveys a sure message that we are a dedicated and determined team with much perseverance and passion for Veterans and the care that they so richly
deserve. While we may have let go of the old hospital
on Perdido Street, we never, never lost sight of the mission to care for him who hath borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan. As I look around, I see manyof you who have worked on both the front lines of health care and behind the scenes to open this Veterans medical center. The journey has been incredible and unpredictable at times, but we have travelled it together with you, Veterans, Veteran advocates, city, state and federal partners all working together to fulfill a legacy because as we know, the price of freedom is visible within these walls. For a decade, many of you have worked and adjusted to ensure that Veterans of southeast Louisiana can see their medical center rise from the floods of 2005 and together we have persevered. And for me, today’s ceremony is not simply an ending, but very much a beginning. So much has happened over the years. We’ve lost loved ones, colleagues, Veterans, family, friends, but today we stand, applauding those who remain, welcoming the many faces who now call New Orleans home and reuniting with those who are back with us to celebrate all of us faithfully serving
our honorable mission. We have come a long way from the dreadful Labor Day weekend in 2005. We all share a common bond and a personal commitment to this journey. This is the medical center where I began my career, and this is the city where I grew up, where I met my wife, Stacie, and where our three children, Fernando junior, Mateo and Dulce, were born. I’m grateful to the VA and to our Veteran family, and thanks to the VA I’ve been able to return to the city that I love, my hometown. But most importantly, thanks to our Veterans me and my family get to continue to live the American dream, and we’re very grateful for that. This morning, I feel a deep sense of pride to be able to celebrate this beginning, the opening of your Veterans medical center. Today’s celebration culminates years of planning, designing an immense undertaking by a highly dedicated VA staff, volunteers and many of you who served as ambassadors and advocates of this project. I’m extremely proud to stand in unity with
you our partners and friends. Today, as we cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the new facility that will serve more than 43 current active users and 66,000 today, soon to be over 70,000 enrolled users, we also pledge to keep Veterans at the core of our work. Veterans, volunteers, Veteran Service Organizations, community partners, congressional members, our Veterans community have helped us get to this day. As President Obama wrote in the letter that is printed in the program, “The men and women of our armed forces represent the best our country has to offer. As Americans, our most sacred obligation is to support them, not only when they are serving, but also after they hang up their uniform. By working to provide quality health care to Louisiana’s Veterans, the Southeast Louisiana Veterans
Health Care System has helped to uphold that mission. This important work shapes a brighter future for those who have given their all to advance the values for which we stand and
reminds us that no one who has defended our country should ever have to fight for the
care that they deserve.” So as we prepare to open this new facility, your Veterans medical center, let me encourage you to welcome this new chapter of our health care system with much hope, optimism and dedication as we work to meet the health care needs of Veterans in this region. We have many of our local, state and federal partners with us today who share in this celebration, and I’m so pleased to welcome them here. I’m grateful to them for their presence with us today, but much more importantly for their support throughout this journey. At this time, please join me in welcoming our mayor of this most beautiful, resilient and unique city, New Orleans mayor, Mitch Landrieu. Fernando, thank you very much. He’s the best in the country, Mr. Secretary. Don’t let anybody take him. [APPLAUSE] To all of the Veterans that are with us today, to their families, to all of the employees, the medical staff. To all of you who are with us. Secretary McDonald, it’s great to see you. Mr. Undersecretary. Senator. Governor. Archbishop. Congressman. Lieutenant Governor. To all the other elected officials that are with us today. And to so many of you that have been with us from the beginning. I just want to make a couple of comments. First of all, as is so often been
said, freedom is not free. The cost is borne every day sometimes by the ultimate sacrifice, sometimes by the pain and suffering that lingers after duty is done and families and individuals live with that for the rest of their life. Fernando said it really quickly, if you fight for the country, you should never have to fight for first-class health care. And so this building in so many ways is a testament to a promise made and a promise kept. And of course, in order to have something like this it doesn’t come out of thin air. People really have to be committed to it. One of the things that we speak about a lot in New Orleans post Katrina besides the fact that we are a great example to the rest of the country about how to, build triumph out of tragedy. The mantra, Mr. Secretary was when we built it back, we were not going build it back the way it was. We were going to build it back the way it should have always been had we gotten it right the first time. And Senator and Governor, Lieutenant governor, congressman and men & women who are with us today, you can take it to the bank that the city of New Orleans and this metropolitan region is going to win the competition, the healthy competition, to make sure that we treat Veterans better than anywhere else in the United States of America. [APPLAUSE] That’s true in the design of the building of the World War Two Museum, it’s now manifest in this particular physical structure, but ladies and gentlemen, what we’re doing here today has deep, deep, deep and abiding significance not just because of the care of the Veterans but what this means to this city and really to this nation. As we face a very difficult time when it seems like we don’t really agree on much, why don’t everybody look around. And this is what America looks like when we’ re on one team all the time. [APPLAUSE] As I conclude my remarks, besides the fact that this was the first city, Mr. Secretary, as you know, to functionally end homelessness for Veterans. We did it faster and better than anybody else because this team is committed. One team, one fight, one
voice, one city. [APPLAUSE] We all remember after Katrina for those of you that were with us and Mr. Secretary, you were our secretary at the time, and I thank you for coming back, putting this development together was quite a feat and everybody here had something to do with it. And so what you’re sitting in the middle of is perhaps the most important health care, economic develop engine and generator that the city of New Orleans has seen in its history.
For those that of you that are too old to remember, back in the day when the Super Dome did not exist, the entire city really kind of was anchored on Canal Street. And when they built the Super Dome over there, it completely transformed the city of New Orleans and took it into the future. I feel very certain with the University Medical Center across the street, with the VA hospital here, we’re not only going to have first-class treatment. We’re not only going to have great medical care. We’re going to have economic development and the creation of jobs that are actually going to sustain the people of this region for a long, long time. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is that we give Veterans what it is that we have promised them, what it is that they need, and at the end of the day, what it is that they deserve. So today is promises made, promises kept. Thank you for your sacrifice and your service. We will repay the debt. God bless you all and thank you so much. [APPLAUSE] Thank you Mr. Mayor. We appreciate your kind words, and as always, your strong leadership. We look forward to our continued partnership on behalf of our Veterans. It’s certainly a great honor to have with us today, from the great state of Louisiana, our governor, an Army Veteran, the honorable John Bel Edwards. [APPLAUSE] Good morning, everybody! Crowd: Good morning! What a beautiful day to be in New Orleans celebrating. And today truly is a day worthy of celebration. I want to thank all of you for coming out. I want to thank all of our Veterans here for your service to our country. Still the greatest country on the face of the Earth, and of course we gather in the greatest state, in the greatest country on the face of the Earth. But I also want to point out the many Veterans who are going to be working right here at this hospital to take care of their fellow Veterans. I want to thank the scores of individuals who worked so hard to make this beautiful facility a
reality so many years after Hurricane Katrina. But this is what it looks like to put Veterans
first. Even if it takes a little longer than maybe it should have, this is what it looks like. And a special thanks today to medical center director Fernando Rivera for his dedication, his tireless work to build a workforce here that is passionate about caring for Veterans. While we gather just one week after Veterans day, this day as you know has been a long
time in the making. The devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina left a void in the centralized health care facility
that we’ve always needed for our Veterans. You know, we ask so much of our Veterans. We ask them to risk everything, Literally everything, so that our nation might remain free. And because we ask everything of them, the least we can do is give them the very best care and respect in return. And we must honor our commitment to our Veterans, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it is also a matter of national security because when you have as we do, an all-volunteer armed forces, it’s much easier for young men and women to sign up to volunteer to serve if they know we are taking care of those who have already done that. So this is about doing the right thing, but it’s also about national security. So we are here today to celebrate that we are able to meet the needs of south Louisiana servicemen and women. And it’s always been unacceptable that a Veteran in our area who needed a fairly routine surgery or
other medical procedure too often had to be sent away from home whether it was to Houston or Birmingham or Jackson or beyond to receive the care that he or she deserves. Well, no more. Today we gather because 70,000 Veterans across 23 parishes will be able to receive the treatment they need right here in New Orleans. And I can guarantee you that Fernando and his team are going to make sure that our Veterans are going to receive
the very best care available anywhere. The men and women who pass through these doors exemplify what it means to be American from service in World War II to the current war against terror. We have Veterans with critical needs, and they’re not going to be bounced around anymore from one facility to another. The care that they need, the care that they deserve, will be available right here under this roof. This is also, as the mayor mentioned, another exciting and positive development in New Orleans and the region. And you know, making sure we deliver the very best health outcomes to our Veterans. Making sure that we also attract and retain the very best and brightest most qualified health care professionals in
the country. And this facility, this state of the art facility, this investment, is going to allow Fernando to do that. So as we gather around our tables next Thursday and we bow our heads to give thanks to God for our many blessings in this country and in this state
and in this city, this is one more blessing that we can be thankful for, that we should
be thankful for. And so as I wrap up, I want to thank you again for being here and celebrating this day. And I want to ask God bless, God to continue to bless the United States of America, the state of Louisiana and our Veterans. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Governor Edwards, for your encouraging words words and your support of our nation’s Veterans. A strong advocate for Veterans in-state and on capitol hill, we’re delighted to have with us this morning Senator Bill Cassidy, a physician, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senator, [APPLAUSE] It is an honor to be here. I feel almost like it’s a culmination of different strains of
my life. Um… My father served in the Army Air Corps. A son of a Veteran. As a physician, I went to medical school here. Fernando mentioned that I’m a doctor. My laugh line during the campaign is I’m a gastroenterologist and that prepared me very well for Washington, D.C. [LAUGHTER] But as a physician who trained in the VA on Perdido and lastly as again Fernando mentioned, serving on the committee which provides oversight and direction from the Senate towards these facilities towards the Veterans Administration. And I’m on that committee, and I try and channel those three things, the son of a Veteran, a fellow who when he
was a younger doctor served Veterans when they were hospitalized and then …um… trying to take
the honor that the state of Louisiana has given me to represent you into that committee to try to come up with something which is better for you. But I cannot take the credit.
The credit goes to veterans. Fernando mentioned how Veterans helped drive this facility. So
I want to thank each of you for your service, not only for our country in its armed conflicts,
but to our country and coming up with this facility. It was your advocacy. It was your
input that put together a facility that provides a wonderful built environment as dedicated
to your health as the aides, the nurses, the doctors and the technicians will be. So, let me finish by once more thanking you. Your service did not finish when you were, when you departed from the military. Your service continues today. And not only today, but for generations, so that those Veterans who are yet unborn will look back upon your service and creating this facility as one more landmark of your service to our country. Thank you all. [APPLAUSE[ Thank you, Senator Cassidy for your inspiration and continued support of Veterans. Our next speaker oversees the nation’s largest integrated health care system that has more than 1,700 sites of care that serve an estimated 8.7 million Veterans annually. Please join me in welcoming Dr. David J. Shulkin,
VA’s Undersecretary for Health. [APPLAUSE] Good morning, everybody. And, um, it’s really terrific to be here. ah, Secretary Nicholson, Archbishop, Mr. Mayor, Mr. Governor, Senator. Um. Our Veteran Service Organizations are out here proud today. Ah, our VA leadership team, those that are currently here and many who have come back. and all of you, really, thank you so much. It’s just such an amazing day and really a momentous occasion for the city of New Orleans and really for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Uh, we are so excited about this facility because it’s going to allow us to do great things for our Veterans as
so many people today have recognized. And I only wish that more people, as many of you are here, I wish that more people could be here to see firsthand about how we’re honoring America’s commitment to providing state of the art care for our veterans. And that’s really what we’re doing here today. Um…Just look at the…as you walk around look at the pride on our staff’s faces, how happy they are that they have these types of resources now to provide their duty and mission to helping serve Veterans. Uh, and people have been waiting a long time, but I think uh, no one has been waiting longer than a gentleman that I got to meet this morning. Uh. Mr. Lawrence Brooks is sitting right here in front of me. Started to get his care here in 1945, he’s been waiting a long time. [LAUGHTER] He is 107 years young, and I’d really like to recognize him. [APPLAUSE] We did this for you, Mr. Brooks. Thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for waiting this long. Good deal. So, uh, I’m especially proud of the leadership team here at VA, led by Fernando. He’s such a strong leader. He’s had experience in VA at all levels and Secretary McDonald and I are so pleased to have him here in New Orleans. We’re not taking him anywhere. So thanks. Ah, but really, now it’s my honor to introduce Secretary McDonald as our keynote speaker today. Secretary McDonald is a transformational and principal based leader and I can tell
you that no one works harder and is more dedicated to the mission of serving Veterans than Bob. I regard Secretary McDonald as one of the great American leaders of our time, and it’s my distinct honor to be working alongside him. Please welcome our secretary,
the Honorable Robert A. McDonald. [APPLAUSE] Good morning, everyone. Crowd: Good morning Before I begin, let
me acknowledge, uh, our very special guests, uh, Governor Edwards, a, a fellow veteran, fellow uh, paratrooper,
uh, West Point graduate. Of course, he graduated uh, well after I did and it was much harder to
get in then. [LAUGHTER[ Uh, [LAUGHTER] But, uh, evidence that West Point graduates continue to give back. Senator Cassidy, he talked about his uh, great leadership on our Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Appropriations Committee. Um, thank you, Senator, for your partnership. We can’t do it alone. Congressman Graves. Uh, Mayor Landrieu. What can I say about Mayor Landrieu? Um. Again, New Orleans leading the way
being the first city in the country to end Veterans homelessness. Uh, Mitch and I have tried to teach other mayors how to do that as recently as a week ago. Um, so, a great representative and
leader of this community. Um, Secretary Jim Nicholson sitting here in the front row. Jim, another
West Point graduate who was Secretary of the VA when this project was started. Jim, it took us a while. I apologize for that, but here you go. [LAUGHTER] And of course, uh, Archbishop uh, Aymond.
Thank you so much for your inspiration, sir. My Louisiana counterpart and Vietnam Veteran, Joey Strickland. Louisiana Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He really does it right here in Louisiana. Representatives of our Veterans Service Organizations. I saw Dave a few minutes ago, National commander of the Disabled American Veterans. There’s Dave right there. Thank you, Dave, for being here and thanks to all of our Veterans Service Organization partners for being here. Thanks
also to our academic medical center community partners. Again we can’t do it by ourselves.
We are honored with your presence and we thank you all for being here. I’d also like to thank
Olivia Cooper for her beautiful gift of the national anthem.
Wasn’t she terrific? [APPLAUSE] Larry
Jones and Bill Detweiler for leading us in the pledge of allegiance and also for their
leadership of our Community Veteran Engagement board. And especially the Louisiana National Guard for presenting the colors. Thank you all for enabling this celebration to occur and for your personal service to the nation and to Veterans. I’m always honored to be
part of these important dedications and ribbon cuttings, but I’m especially honored to be
here right now today after serving for the past 28 months as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Last Friday I was at Arlington National Cemetery for the Veterans Day commemoration. Every time I visit Arlington, I’m reminded of that last scene of Saving Private Ryan in which the aged Ryan kneels reverently before Captain Miller’s grave and says to Miller, and all
Veterans, “I’ve tried to live my life the best I could. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what all you have done for me.” That’s my hope as well. We’ve all been given one of the greatest gifts possible by America’s Veterans. The opportunity to live in a country as free and as prosperous as the United States of America. The question is,… Are we earning it? At VA, we’re privileged to have the best and most inspiring mission in government, caring for those who have borne the battle and for their families and their
survivors. It’s a noble mission, and our 360,000 employees, one-third of them Veterans themselves, are proud to be a part of it. Eight years ago, VA set its sights on three main priorities, increasing access, eliminating the claims backlog, and ending Veterans homelessness. And we’ve delivered on each of those priorities. We’ve reduced Veterans homelessness by almost half. We’ve all but eliminated the claims backlog, and we greatly expanded Veterans
access to health care. 1.2 million more Veterans are now enrolled for VA health care and last year Veterans completed 4 million more completed appointments than the previous year. Over 96 percent of those appointments in September were completed within 30 days of the Veterans preferred date. 91 percent were within 14 days. 22 percent were the very same day and by the end of this calendar year, we will have same-day access to primary care and mental health care in every one of our VA medical facilities. [APPLAUSE] And just since I’ve been at VA, we’ve also begun an ambitious transformation initiative called MyVA that aims to make VA the number one customer service
organization in the federal government. Through MyVA we’re transforming the VA in five ways. First, we’re improving the Veteran experience. Second, we’re improving the employee experience. We have to invest in employees if we expect them to care for Veterans. Third, we’re improving our internal support services. Fourth, we’re establishing a culture of continuous improvement, and fifth, we’re expanding strategic partnerships, and I’m thrilled to see so many
partners here today. That fifth strategy, expanding strategic partnerships, is more important than most people believe. A lot of people don’t know it, but VA, as we know it, was founded on the partnerships after World War II when General Omar Bradley, then a four-star general still on active duty, was asked to be the VA administrator, and he reached out to medical colleges and universities all across the country to enlist them in the cause of caring for Veterans who were returning from the Pacific and European theaters. Out of that initiative came our all important partnerships with many of Louisiana’s outstanding
schools, several represented here today. Out of those partnerships has come a Nobel prize awarded to Dr. Andrew Schally in 1977 for his research on neurohormones conducted right here in New Orleans. Today, VA has over 1,800 partnerships with medical schools and research institutions. VA researchers have earned three Nobel prizes, eight Lasker Awards and many other honors for contributions to medical science that benefit not just Veterans but
benefit all Americans and people everywhere. General Bradley also established VA’s voluntary service to enlist others in the service for caring for Veterans. We’ve extended that idea to the formation of these community Veteran engagement boards, like the MyVA community council chaired by Larry Jones and Bill Detweiller here in New Orleans. These boards or councils
bring advocates and agencies and other stakeholders together to find ways to better serve Veterans. There are now 95 of these nationally. We expect to have over 100 by year’s end. By working together, we can do more, together, than what no single agency, no department of government can do alone. Now a major challenge in expanding Veterans access to health care is aging infrastructure. Some 900 VA facilities are over 90 years old, and 1,300 are over 70 years old. These older facilities don’t meet today’s standards for hospital construction. They also don’t help us meeting the growing population of female Veterans. They were designed to provide health
care in the 1930’s, not in the 2020’s. The rooms are too small to accommodate state of the art medical equipment and procedures. An operating room today is twice the size
of an operating room just three or four years ago. They lack the privacy, the convenience, the comfort Veterans, especially female Veterans, expect today. They need to be replaced with new facilities like this one. Building hospitals isn’t easy, but Louisiana Veterans have been fortunate. Since Hurricane Katrina, lawmakers in Washington have recognized the need for a new state-of-the-art VA medical center to replace the one devastated by Katrina.
totaling This new facility covers 12 city blocks. Totaling 29 acres. It provides 1.6 million square feet of floor space and can operate for five days on its own without support from external utilities. It’s also designed to accommodate more beds in the emergency, in any emergency. When fully operational this time next year, it will employ 2,588 people and serve 70,000 Veterans in
southeast Louisiana. Now let me acknowledge some of those responsible for getting this important facility built. The design team Studio NOVA Joint Venture led by NBBJ and including two local firms, Rosas Ward and EDR. The builders, Clark McCarthy Healthcare Partners, a joint venture including local contractors, Landis Construction and Woodward Design and Build. VA’s onsite construction management team, led by Mark, uh, Brideweser as project executive and backed by VA’s office of Construction and Facilities Management. Of course, Fernando Rivera, Director of the Southeast Louisiana Health Care System who grew up in New Orleans and gave up a higher level job in VA in order to return home and
bring these buildings to life. [APPLAUSE] Skye McDougal, network director, and the rest of the leadership of VISN 16 and the southeast Louisiana health care system. Finally the city of New Orleans and the mayor, Mayor Landrieu, for his support and patience in the past several years. VA can do nothing on its own. We depend on Congress for funding and authorization. We depend on Veterans Service Organizations for their advice and their assistance. We depend on thousands
of public and private partners to contribute their own resources and expertise to countless causes on behalf of Veterans. And we depend on our own employees to go the extra mile in serving Veterans. Alone, we can do very little, but together we can earn that gift that Veterans have given us. Thank you to everyone who has helped to make this day possible. Thank you. May God bless our great country and all the Veterans of our great country.
God bless you all. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you Dr. Shulkin and Secretary McDonald for those inspiring and challenging words. And thank you for your continuing support
and strong leadership in support of Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System. We, we now come to the part of our ceremony that many of our Veterans enjoy. It’s the playing of the armed forces service song medley. We ask that you please stand when your service song is played. If you’re unable to stand or are already standing, please raise your hand. So let’s play the service medley. [MUSIC] [APPLAUSE] Before we have the official ribbon cutting,
I want to ask Archbishop Aymond to come and give a benediction. Loving and merciful God. As we stand on this holy ground, our hearts are grateful for this
medical center and those who will work here to care for others,
our Veterans. Give to all of our Veterans your reassuring love and healing in times of illness. And for those Veterans who have
gone before us in death give them the fullness of eternal life in
your kingdom. Lord, help us as a community to appreciate and care for those who have served our country. May they never be forgotten or taken for granted. Bless our country in this time of transition. Together may we seek peace, reconciliation and unity. Lord we ask you to strengthen all those in military service today. Keep them safe from harm. Bless their
efforts to protect and defend our country and to work towards peace in a world that
is torn by war. We ask this in faith for you are God living and reigning forever and ever. Crowd:Amen Ok now. On the count of three, we will cut the ribbon. Ready? One. Two. Three. [APPLAUSE] One. Two. Three. Ladies and gentlemen,
welcome to your new New Orleans Veterans medical center.

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