MODESTO -- Stanislaus County veterans with medical needs soon will have a new, larger and more modern medical clinic to serve them.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is opening a state-of-the-art outpatient clinic this month at 1225 Oakdale Road in east Modesto.
The public is invited to tour it during an open house from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Friday. The clinic itself, however, won't open for business until Feb. 27.
The 23,250-square-foot facility is double the size of the VA's current Modesto clinic at 1524 McHenry Ave.
More than 7,700 veterans used that clinic last year, and the number of vets treated there has grown steadily since it opened in 1998.
Modesto will continue to be served by 44 medical and administrative staff members, but they'll have much more room to work.
The 20 exam rooms will offer general medicine, radiology, phlebotomy, physical and occupational therapy, mental health and social work services.
The clinic will provide limited hearing aid repair and speech therapy services, and it will offer video-based appointments via the Internet with medical providers in distant cities.
The VA is leasing the facility, which was custom-built by Sonora's California Gold Development Corp. and designed by Modesto's Bob DeGrasse of L Street Architects. Construction began two years ago.
The government signed a contract to lease the privately owned building for the next 10 years. The VA spent about $3.8 million on the clinic's interior improvements, such as installing walls, plumbing, sinks and doors.
At Friday's ceremony, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, will give the keynote speech, and assorted local and VA officials will participate.
Modesto native Joseph D. Jackson, 27, will be presented the Purple Heart for injuries he suffered in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Jackson was a Navy hospital corpsman third class on patrol May 31, 2006, when an improvised explosive device exploded beneath the engine of his unit's Humvee. He suffered a traumatic brain injury in the blast. A 2003 Beyer High School graduate, Jackson now attends Modesto Junior College.
Also as part of Friday's event, there will be a ceremonial flyover. Former Marine Corps aviator Vince Nastro will pilot his privately owned T-34 Mentor. His honorary co-pilot will be Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran and former Marine Gunnery Sgt. Randall Reyes, who is an outreach specialist at the Modesto Vet Center.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2196.