CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - After eight years of waiting, it's a time for new beginnings. The Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Hospital broke ground on a future research center that they say will become a game changer in the study and treatment of PTSD for many years to come.
"I can't even tell you how wonderful it was to break ground for research here," said hospital Director Carolyn Adams.
The research facility is currently designed to be a one story (16,000 sq ft.) building but four additional floors can be added on in the future.
The focus of center will be to study, experiment and treat those suffering with PTSD.
"I'll be excited when that building starts coming down and the new stuff starts going up," said PTSD researcher Rita Young, referencing two temporary buildings currently sitting where the new center will go. "It's a huge accomplishment."
Funding for the addition came from a $10 million grant the hospital was awarded two years ago. Since receiving the grant, the VA hospital has been working back and forth with design teams to get the perfect space for future study.
Lt. Col. Ed Chamberlayne says the United States Army Corps of Engineers will begin construction on the building at the end of the month.
"We're very excited to build a facility that contributes instead of just talking about a problem," said Chamberlayne. "We're going to be dealing with this for quite some time."
Adams says the VA hospital currently treats 55,000 veterans and that number grows about eight percent every year.
"It is growing and that's why we make sure we have that access for them for their care and we've provided the latest care that's available for all of our veterans," said Adams.
The director says between 8-18 percent of returning soldiers have PTSD.
"We are prepared to meet the demand and we have to continue to meet the demand," said Adams.
The total cost of the project is $9.9 million. The construction alone will cost $8 million.
The building is being designed with five wet labs, 27 exam rooms and three group rooms for PTSD and mental health research.