By George Leroy HunterNewton — The wait for a local clinic to better serve the needs of Sussex County’s tens of thousands of U.S. military veterans is finally over. On Monday, March 6, a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the Veterans Affairs New Jersey Healthcare System’s Sussex Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in downtown Newton. The clinic is housed in the Norman Silbert Medical Arts Building at 222 High Street, suite 103. The 3,800 sq. ft. facility opened in January and is already bringing needed services to veterans who reside in Sussex and Warren counties.“Making sure veterans have timely access to medical care is one of the most important things we must do,” said U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ11), a veteran of the Vietnam conflict, who was present at the ceremony and is recognized as one of the driving forces behind getting the clinic in Sussex County.Joining Frelinghuysen at the ribbon-cutting were fellow U.S. Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ5) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ7), U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), local, state and VA officials and a number of veterans.“The new clinic is really good because instead of having to drive an hour and a half to a different clinic in Morris County I can come here in forty minutes,” said U.S. Navy veteran Chris Wyman, a Vernon resident. “And there are also buses available for disabled veterans to help them get here. It is a blessing to have it so close to home.”Booker called it a “great day,” and said the U.S. was a “great nation” that should be judged by how it treats its military veterans. He also credited Frelinghuysen with leading the fight to secure the clinic.Gottheimer, who defeated long-time GOP Congressman Scott Garrett for the 5th District seat in November, said, “We need more clinics like this in the state so people won't have to drive so far to get the help they need. This was about getting things done for veterans, to make sure they had the health care they needed.”Garrett has also been called instrumental in bringing the clinic to Sussex County. Frelinghuysen also credited U.S. VA Secretary David Schulkin for helping to make it happen.The VA in New Jersey operates two medical centers, in East Orange and Lyons, and outpatient clinics in Brick, Cape May, Elizabeth, Hackensack, Hamilton, Jersey City, Marlton, Morristown, Northfield, Paterson, Piscataway, Sewell, Tinton Falls, Vineland and, now, Newton. Prior to the opening of the Sussex CBOC, the closest clinic for many vets in Sussex and Warren counties had been in Morristown.Gottheimer represents the state's 5th Congressional District, which covers 19 Sussex County municipalities, including Andover Township, Newton, Lafayette and part of Sparta. Frelinghuysen's 11th Congressional District covers 5 Sussex County municipalities, including part of Sparta, Byram and Stanhope. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 60,000 veterans in those two districts.Lance’s 7th District includes seven municipalities in Warren County.Vincent Immiti, director of the VA New Jersey Healthcare System which oversees the CBOC, said, “We are excited to be offering our nation's heroes with the healthcare services they so deserve.”Immiti added that the types of services available at the new site include “primary care, tele-mental health, and expanded tele-health services for nutrition, weight management, pharmacy medication management, and smoking cessation.”The Sussex CBOC is open from 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. Veterans can call 973 756-1504 for further information or to receive services.