Shinseki, who was at the Palo Alto campus last Friday (Sept. 16) for a groundbreaking ceremony, said the VA has committed $1.6 billion to replace Palo Alto's aging facilities, which include a new ambulatory-care building, rehabilitation center, recreation therapy and research facilities.
Katelin Haver, VA Palo Alto strategic/facility planner, said a portion of the contracts will go to veterans and veterans who were disabled during their service. She did not know what percentage of jobs would go to the vets. The decisions are made on a project-by-project basis.
Palo Alto's facilities are among the most advanced in the nation, taking in veterans with traumatic brain injuries wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Shinseki said.
VA Palo Alto runs a polytrauma rehabilitation center, spinal-cord injury center, a comprehensive rehabilitation center, a traumatic brain-injury center, the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center and other facilities that serve 85,000 enrolled veterans.
The construction projects will be added to an industry that's seen a decline in business in the Bay Area.
Along the Peninsula and in San Francisco there were 1,400 fewer construction jobs in July 2011 compared to July 2010, according to the Association of General Contractors of America.
In the East Bay, there were 2,200 fewer construction jobs during the same period.
In August, there were 7,200 fewer construction jobs statewide, according to the California Employment Development Department. Most of the job losses were due to a decline in publicly funded projects, according to the Association of General Contractors.
Veterans compose approximately 22 percent of VA Palo Alto's 4,100-person workforce, and the medical center is working to increase that percentage, Haver said.
"These projects, along with all other development and construction opportunities with the VA Palo Alto Health Care System will be shared with the public through the Federal Business Opportunities website at www.fbo.org," she said.