MARION — With a $3.9 million donation, a new 16,000-square-foot veterans center will provide a wide range of new services on the VA Medical Center campus.

The new Illinois AMVETS Medical Center will open to patients later this month to provide behavioral medicine, prosthetics, physical therapy and a service office including job therapy and career services. Aquatics therapy and cardiac rehabilitation are also planned for the center.

Nearly 100 people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new center Wednesday.

“This facility will improve the quality of life for veterans now and for generations to come,” Interim Director Frank Kehus of the Marion VA Medical Center said, while expressing gratitude to the AMVETS and the Illinois AMVETS Service Foundation for their contributions toward the center.

The center was paid for through a donation from the Illinois AMVETS Service Foundation. The AMVETS organization is the fourth largest congressionally chartered veterans organization, begun in 1944. The Illinois AMVETS Service Foundation was founded in 1945 as the fundraising body for the group.

“Our veterans deserve this. Our veterans need this, and we need to help those veterans and we need to remember to help them to get here, we need to help them get home and we need to help them just get through their days,” Service Foundation President Cheryl Weglewski said.

The new center is one of several being planned at the Marion campus, Kehus said. Two behavioral health care centers are also in the works. The Marion VA Medical Center System provides healthcare services to more than 42,000 veterans living in Southern Illinois, northwestern Kentucky, and western Indiana.

“Our partnership that we have shared with all you is visible by your presence here today and reflects your continued support for all veterans and the VA Medical Center,” he said.

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