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STS-114 Commander Eileen Collins Helps Dedicate Veterans Clinic Wing
John Breaux, one of many U.S. Navy veterans who use the Brevard Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Viera, Fla., is proud of the facility's involvement with NASA.

The clinic is located in Brevard County, Fla. -- home of NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Breaux expressed his admiration for the nation's space program on Nov. 1 as he watched Jim Kennedy, the space center's director, and STS-114 Commander Eileen Collins dedicate the clinic's mental health wing, named after space shuttle Discovery. + View this Video

Dr. Thomas Howard, Kennedy Space Center Director Jim Kennedy and STS-114 Commander Eileen Collins "I've followed all of the NASA launches, including the day my wife and I got married," Breaux said. "We have footage of an Apollo launch as part of our wedding video. It was a crystal clear day and I remember seeing the boosters falling down after the launch."

Image at Right: Jim Kennedy (center) and Commander Eileen Collins (right) stand next to the space shuttle Discovery launch photo presented to Dr. Thomas Howard (left) as part of the dedication of the hospital wing. Image credit: NASA

The new wing joins three primary care units – Gemini, Apollo and Mercury – in addition to specialty clinics Endeavour and Saturn as wings at the clinic named after NASA programs and spacecraft. Construction of the 107,500-square-foot facility began in January 1998, followed by its opening in July 1999.

Kennedy, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, acknowledged the hard work of the clinic's staff.

"We are proud of so much that goes on at the Kennedy Space Center and our community," he said. "First, we are very proud of our veterans and appreciate the service they give to this nation. As a Brevard County resident, I am proud that we have a VA clinic that provides services to more than 19,000 veterans a year. And we are also proud you have chosen to name the various wings of your clinic after our successful space programs."

Kennedy introduced Collins, also an Air Force veteran, who was honored by the clinic's association with NASA.

"My retirement date is coming this month, so I feel like I will be part of a very distinct and honored group," Collins said. "In fact, my father, two brothers and husband are also veterans of different military service, so I think that is part of what got me started in my military service, which was a great experience for me.

"Our veterans have done so much for the freedom of our country, and I thank all of you for that," she said. "The work the staff performs here not only helps the patients, but it is a great help for the families of patients who have needs in the medical area."

The clinic's chief medical officer, Dr. Thomas Howard, thanked Kennedy and Collins and acknowledged the important contributions of retired KSC employee Norris Gray, a World War II veteran and current NASA public affairs volunteer. "He remains actively engaged with NASA as a public affairs volunteer and advocate," Howard said. "He's also a veterans' advocate who has knitted these two programs together and should be acknowledged for what he continues to do for both."

The Viera clinic serves Brevard and nearby Volusia and Indian River Counties, which have more than 100,000 potential veteran patients.

Jeff Stuckey
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center