BENTON TOWNSHIP — The long-awaited new Benton Harbor VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic will open its doors next month.

A spokesman for Veterans Affairs said Tuesday the finishing touches are being done and furniture will be delivered in early October, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for Oct. 18.

The physical move from the office at 115 W. Main St. in downtown Benton Harbor will take place the weekend prior to the grand opening, said Brian Pegouske, chief of communications and community engagement for the VA.

It’s been years in the making, as Pegouske said the VA is excited about the move to a building twice the size of its current clinic. The new clinic is at the corner of Mall Drive and Fairplain Drive in Benton Township, across from Lowe’s. The building previously housed an Office Max store.

Pegouske said planning and design for the new clinic began about four years ago based on the expiration of the current lease on the building in downtown Benton Harbor. It hit some snags along the way due to some permit problems and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“We expected an opening late last year or this January. But then came COVID and supply chain issues. There were construction and furniture supply issues,” he said.

Pegouske said the new clinic, besides being twice the size, will eventually offer more services to area veterans who have long had to travel to facilities in Battle Creek or Indiana.

“Initially it will offer the same services for primary care and mental health. Eventually, we’ll likely rotate some specialists into the new clinic,” he said. “We’ll look at where (the veterans) are going now for specialized services and, based on the numbers, determine whether it’s practical to bring in some specialists to the new clinic.”

Maureen Adams, director of the Berrien County Veterans Service Office, said her office is looking forward to the new clinic.

While veterans should go to the clinic for health care needs, they should continue to visit the Berrien County Veterans Service Office for claims related to compensation, pension, burial, education or home loans, Adams said.

The office is at the Berrien County Administration building, 701 Main St., St. Joseph.

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