PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced a new partnership with the Department of Defense to increase access to surgical care for approximately 37,000 Gulf Coast-area veterans. 

Veterans will now be able to receive same-day, outpatient surgical care at a new VA clinic in Naval Hospital Pensacola, a local DoD hospital.

The goal of the partnership between the DoD and the VA is to provide more care, more quickly, to more Gulf Coast veterans at a convenient location. 

Located right down the street from the VA clinic, the VA is using extra space at Naval Hospital Pensacola to provide surgical and other hospital services to veterans.

“These are folks that, by definition, know military culture,” VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Shareef Elnahal said. “They know what veterans experience because they know many veterans in their family and among their friends among their community. It just makes sense to do more and more with the DoD.”

Previously, veterans had to travel to places like the Biloxi VA Medical Center or a local community hospital for surgical procedures. 

An expansion of the clinic is something that Marine Corps veteran Rob Curry believes is needed. 

“They’ve just about outgrown this place because they’re serving so many veterans and everything,” Curry said. “These doctors, I have a great doctor, and these doctors are overworked. They see so many patients.”

The new clinic has already opened to patients for ambulatory surgery, and the VA said they plan to expand those services as soon as possible. 

“It is not just care that they qualify for; it is care that they earned,” Dr. Elnahal said.

The VA said they plan to replicate the partnership across the country.