VA Medical Center officials looking ahead to next 40 years

Terry Atienza, director of the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center, holds up a jump drive he placed into a time capsule to be opened on the hospital’s 100th anniversary. The medical center celebrated its 60th anniversary Friday

The Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center observed its 60th anniversary with a nod to its past and a time capsule intended to be opened on the 100th anniversary.

Medical Center Director Terry Atienza drew laughs from about 80 people when he observed that the center was in little danger from flying golf balls when it opened six decades before.

The center now is the occasional landing area for errant golf balls from adjacent Lincoln Park Golf Course.

Many more significant changes have happened in that time, such as advancements in medical treatment and the services the center offers to veterans, Atienza said.

Today, physicians at the Grand Junction center can diagnose patients at a Craig clinic using advanced telemedicine, for instance.

The staff, meanwhile, remains committed to the veterans it serves over a 17-county region encompassing parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

The center, Atienza said, “is where every day is Veterans Day.”

To tell a bit of the story of the center as it is today, officials collected contributions for the time capsule. Along with, yes, golf balls, several people offered letters and business cards. One offered a computer jump drive, which Atienza noted would likely be obsolete when the capsule is opened in 40 years.

News clippings, earplugs, a radiation-exposure monitor and an empty plastic pill bottle marked
“We love chocolate” also were included in the message to the future.


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