Christopher Sandles, the outgoing director and chief executive officer for the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, addressed retired military officers in Killeen Friday during a meeting hosted by the Central Texas Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
Sandles talked about improvements to the local system — which includes the Veterans Affairs hospital in Temple — since his time as the director.
Sandles is taking over the director position of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System based out of San Antonio in March. Effective March 3, Andrew Garcia will assume the role of interim director for the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.
One major addition to the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System was the VA-staffed La Grange Community Based Outpatient Clinic, which can service La Grange area veterans.
“With the La Grange Community Based Outpatient Clinic, we went from concept to seeing patients in eight and half months,” Sandles said. “And we added a multitude of services.”
Some of the services include primary care services for veterans in the La Grange area, a laboratory, tele-health services and X-rays.
In addition to providing health care, Sandles discussed the VA enhanced-use lease housing facility initiative for homeless veterans.
The program allows VA to partner with the public or private sector to maximize returns to veterans from underutilized capital assets.
If approved, no less than 35 housing units will be available for homeless veterans or veterans and their families who are at-risk of becoming homeless. The housing will be part of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System’s Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Waco.
“One of the goals of the housing unit is to place veterans in an easily accessible location so they are free to commute in the local area as needed,” said Canaan Brumley, with Central Texas Veterans Health Care System public affairs. “There is a possibility of a partnership with Chip Gaines (of “Fixer Upper” fame) for the initiative. Funding for the housing comes from community donations.”
The Central Texas Veterans Health Care System is one of the largest integrated health care systems in the United States and provides a full range of services including medical/surgical hospital beds, a hospice unit, and community living center beds. It serves a veteran population of more of more than 252,000, covers 35,243 square miles and 11 congressional districts in 39 counties.