Officials at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System on Wednesday officially opened its newest development, the Mental Health Learning Center, which the system's director called "a beacon for the connection between staff education and veteran healing."
The $10 million center will house training and education for staff to improve practices and procedures for mental health treatment, an ever-changing field, said Palo Alto VA Director Lisa Freeman.
U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, the keynote speaker at the opening, praised the work for its potential to provide continually adapting mental heath care.
"My mother always said that there's nothing like peace of mind," Eshoo said, adding that the new facility will provide "peace of mind to those who have been ravaged and damaged serving our country."
It will include a dedicated computer training space for the center's nursing education program and a large, open auditorium that can be subdivided and used for several smaller events. There is also space for the Office of Education, which is responsible for the oversight and management of continuing-education programs.
The center is one of several projects outlined in the $750 million reconstruction of the Palo Alto VA, the Veteran's Health Administration's largest health care system in northern California.
The LEED-silver certified building is the first step in creating a larger staff training-and-education facility at the Palo Alto VA. Work is scheduled to begin on a simulation center in early 2014. When it's completed the two facilities will form a contiguous training site called the Learning Center.
Eshoo noted that the health care system is struggling to keep up with care for those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are more than 1.8 million veterans living in California -- 30,000 of them live in Eshoo's district, she said.
"When they come home, regardless of the policies that took them overseas, we owe them the best," she said. "It's important we have professionals who are highly trained and are continuing to learn serving them."