PERRY, Ga. — For some Central Georgia veterans, help may be coming closer to home. Perry will soon house a multimillion dollar Veterans Affairs clinic, just outside the downtown at the Eastgate Shopping Center.
Nick Gunter says he served his country proudly.
"I was in the Marine Corps and I served from 2013-2017, I was in logistics and it went really well," the veteran explained.
Now, he awaits service, using Veterans Affairs clinics. He says getting that service is sometimes complicated.
"When you go to make an appointment for the VA, it’s kind of like months out and waiting," he continued.
He says the backlog caused him to change clinics but that hasn’t been much better.
"The Macon clinic was so backed up that I recently switched to the Perry one, but even with switching to the Perry one, the clinics, the smaller clinics they can only do so many things," he said.
The VA has clinics in Macon, Milledgeville, and in Perry, but for most services, veterans get sent to Dublin, more than an hour away from Perry. Soon, veterans like Gunter won’t have to go so far for the help they need.
"The new VA clinic will be here in Perry, Georgia, and this whole property, including the parking lot, will be redeveloped," Perry’s Economic Administrator Ashley Hardin explained.
Hardin says it’s a $14 million deal between the VA and a development company.
"There was an RFP that went out where the VA was looking for a build to suit space, then they came back and said on the RFP that they were looking for an existing building," she said.
She says the building in the 54,000 square feet of the Eastgate Shopping Center is the best place for the clinic. It will be an expanded version of the clinic already in Houston County, and the two will merge.
"The current clinic on Houston Lake Road will move over here with approximately 60 jobs and then they'll be able to hire new jobs and have special services as well,” she said.
Gunter, whose help would be closer to home, says it’s a step in the right direction.
"Finding out that we're getting more help is actually useful. There's a lot of complications in the VA, and with this coming forward, maybe it’ll help us advance a little bit more," he said.
For those wondering what the future of those businesses that are still in the shopping center, Church in the park will remain. The dance studio will relocate, and the future of the Family Dollar is unknown.
The city says construction should begin this summer and fall and finish sometime in 2023. The clinic should bring around 100 jobs to town.