Walla Walla VA Excited About Progress For On-Site, Historical Ho - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Walla Walla VA Excited About Progress For On-Site, Historical Homeless Housing Project

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WALLA WALLA, WA. -- Crews are working hard at the VA Medical Center in Walla Walla to renovate some historic buildings that are more than a century old. 

Ask anyone who's done it, they'll tell you that renovating a home, isn't easy

"These are the officers quarters to Fort Walla Walla," Steohen Roberts, the VA Medical Center's Archeologist said. 

Especially while maintaining the history of a home from 1858. But when the work is done, these buildings will breathe new life.

"And these officers quarters are some of the most significant historical buildings in the state and arguably the Pacific Northwest," Roberts said. 

The history Roberts has found inside these very walls, with hand made, sun dried adobe block, is incredible. 

"It's very unique," Roberts said. "I don't know of any other structure in the state that has this kind of adobe block. And they're still in pretty good shape for 150 years old."

It's quite literally opening a window into the past. 

"You can really get the sense of how things really were back in the 1850," Roberts told us. 

150 years ago, Fort Walla Walla solders lived their lives here, and soon enough, new soldiers will call this home.

"They will be creating 40 housing units for homeless veterans," Walla Walla VA Medical Center Director Brian Westfield said. 

But Walla Walla VA Director Brian Westfield knows it will take a lot more than homeless housing to improve the VA's reputation. Across the nation the VA health care system has received intense criticism for its new "Choice" program which is supposed to allow veterans who wait more than 30 days or live 40 miles or more from a VA facility to use a private doctor.

But some veterans say the new program is too confusing and is causing more problems.

"It has had a slow start, definitely," Westfield said. "And the veterans have experienced that slow start and they do get frustrated. But Congress and the VA are working together to try make sure that they do have better access to care."

No matter what happens with Choice in the future, this housing will definitely make an impact on veterans lives.

"It's the highlight of my career, it really is," Roberts said.

Hopefully symbolizing a new start, not only for the veterans that move in, but for the VA as a whole.

Veterans could be moving into these historic homes as soon as spring of 2016.  
 

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