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U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. and Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto inaugurated the new Veterans Affairs (VA) building in a ceremony attended by many American and Filipino veterans. Located at the U.S. Embassy’s Seafront Compound in Pasay City (next to Cuneta Astrodome), the newly-built VA building houses the new Regional Office and state-of-the-art Outpatient Clinic.

During the ceremony, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Manila Director Jon Skelly presented a symbolic key to veterans who will now enjoy the services of the benefits office as well as the outpatient clinic with modern facilities and state-of-the-art laboratories accredited by the College of American Pathologists. This new building is the only VA facility outside the United States.

In his remarks, Ambassador Thomas said, “I have had the pleasure of meeting Filipino and American veterans over the past year. Listening to their experiences and learning about sacrifices they made for our countries is truly humbling. I am so pleased that we are able to provide this facility to the veterans who sacrificed so much for us.”

The P1.3 billion VA building was constructed by a Filipino company – the Makati Development Corporation – from 2008 to 2010. Eight hundred jobs were generated during this time.

The new facility is part of the U.S. Government’s commitment to improving services for the public and reinforcing the close ties between the United States and the Philippines. The benefits office and outpatient clinic are now both located in the new facility, which provides more efficient delivery of financial and medical services and better customer service in general to veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces living in the Philippines and to certain Philippine nationals. The office employs 230 local Filipinos who work alongside their American counterparts serving veterans of both countries.

Approximately 18,600 individuals receive financial and/or health benefits from the benefits office and outpatient clinic. Since the passage of the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund (FVEC) benefit in February 2009, VA has paid over 18,100 individuals amounting to P9.3 billion in one-time financial benefits. Last year, the VA also paid out P8.2 billion in recurring disability compensation, pension, education and vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits.

For more information on the new facility please visithttp://manila.usembassy.gov/us-agencies2/veterans-affairs.html. Veterans are advised to schedule an appointment prior to their visit to the VA building.