New Montana VA Clinic Named After Doolittle Raid Veteran

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Veterans in the Missoula area will now receive care at the new state-of-the-art David J. Thatcher VA Clinic. Montana VA held a grand opening ceremony on January 28 and the first day of patient care will be February 1.

The clinic is named for Montanan and Army Air Corps tail gunner David J. Thatcher, who was part of the legendary Doolittle Raid.

The nine million dollar clinic is three times the size of its former Palmer Street location. The clinic measures 60,000 square feet and spans eight acres. It will be able to serve up to 9,000 veterans.

“This beautiful, state-of-the-art clinic will give our veterans the care they truly deserve and give Montana VA what we really want, more opportunities to fulfill our solemn commitment to care for the wounded in defense of our nation,” said said Executive Director, Dr. Judy Hayman. “Our goal is for every veteran who walks through these doors to find strength, courage, health and healing at this clinic.

Collocated caregivers in the “teamwork area”

Patients meet with multiple providers in a single appointment room

The new clinic is in a fully connected space and is designed around VA’s integrated PACT (Patient Align Care Team) model. At the clinic, veterans will meet with multiple providers based in a single appointment room. This optimizes a patient’s contact time with caregivers who are centralized in a “team work area” and one door away. Instead of a veteran going to each supplier, every supplier goes to the veteran.

The PACT model integrates and coordinates veteran care with clinical services such as social workers, dietitians, pharmacists, mental health practitioners and others. This collaboration improves real-time decision-making, streamlines communications, and brings care and services directly to the Veteran.

Benefits offices also on site

Veterans will also have access to new and expanded services, such as physiotherapy, general radiology, teleretina and teleaudiology services, and laboratory services. The clinic includes endocrinology, cardiology, prosthetics, sleep medicine, homeless veteran support and primary home care.

Dedicated meeting spaces will help veterans connect to peer support groups and other classes, including support for healthy living and PTSD. Additionally, veterans can access disability compensation claims support, pension information, and education and employment benefits at Veterans Benefits Administration offices on square.

Heroic actions depicted in the movie “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”

David J. Thatcher was an outstanding Montana and Army Air Corps veteran. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he volunteered to serve as a tail gunner for a high-risk mission to attack targets deep within Japanese-held territory. This counterattack is known in history as the Doolittle Raid.

After completing the April 1942 bombing mission and running out of fuel, Staff Sergeant Thatcher’s plane crashed near the Chinese coast. Thatcher was instrumental in treating his badly injured group and helping them to safety. For his actions he was awarded the Silver Star.

Actor Robert Walker portrayed Thatcher on the big screen in “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.”

After the war, Thatcher embarked on a career in the postal service and married his sweetheart, Dawn. Their marriage lasted seven decades until his death in June 2016 at the age of 94. Dawn Thatcher died in May 2020.

Montana VA serves more than 47,000 registered veterans across Montana – approximately 147,000 square miles. Veterans are cared for by 1,400 Montana VA employees at 18 care sites across the state. One-third of Montana VA employees are veterans.

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