Concluding a campaign by local veteran's groups that took nearly a decade, the new Decorah Veterans Adminstration Outpatient Clinic was dedicated Thursday morning.
U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, in a statement read at the morning ribbon-cutting, wrote the new clinic means "veterans no longer have to travel long hours for care." U.S. Congressman Tom Latham echoed those feelings in a written message, saying, simply, "Finally!"
The 10,000 square foot facility is located in the former Wal-Mart building in the Centrum Plaza. Regional Veterans Administration official Barry Sharp told Thursday morning's audience "I'm happy to be here and be a part of this community." He welcomed the audience to "this absolutely gorgeous clinic."
Northeast Iowa veterans had lobbied for the outpatient clinic since 2003, sending 6,000 postcards to the Veterans Administration at one point, then later sending a bus caravan to the Twin Cities to plead their case.
Decorah Mayor Don Arendt told the audience the only way the morning could be more perfect were "if (the bald eagle) D1 came flying over."
But it was left to Winneshiek County Veterans Affairs Commission member Glen Larson to best sum up the feeling of the large audience: "Thank God it's open!"