During her campaign to represent Prince William County in the Virginia House of Delegates, Briana Sewell said she did a lot of listening. And one thing that became clear to her is the greater need for veteran services in the region.
“When you look at the commonwealth as a whole, about 8% of the population identify as veterans, but when you look at our region here in Northern Virginia that number increases,” said Sewell, D-51st. She noted that more than 700,000 veterans live in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William.
As a result, Sewell has introduced House Bill 432, asking Virginia’s Department of Veteran Services to create a veterans care center in the eastern portion of Northern Virginia.
“With [Marine Corps Base] Quantico and Fort Belvoir, I wanted to take care of my neighbors,” she said. “Individuals just want to age in place gracefully in an area they’ve called home for a significant period of time.”
If Sewell’s bill survives the legislative gauntlet during this winter’s General Assembly session, the center would join similar facilities in Richmond and Roanoke. Another state veterans care center is under construction in Virginia Beach, with a fourth in Fauquier County to begin construction later this year.
“When you look at the census data for our veterans, one in four resides in Northern Virginia, and it’s a natural fit to set up a strong support system,” she said.
Sewell’s bill has been referred to the House Rules Committee, where she will have an opportunity to share the stories of many veterans across the commonwealth.
“I’m a daughter of two Air Force veterans, and I know when they sign up, the whole family serves,” Sewell said. “I hope to prioritize the residents of Prince William after I heard about the need for more veterans support in our area.”
Sewell, a Prince William native, said the center is needed to address not only existing needs but also the expected growth of the local veteran community.
“We’re not just thinking about those who are currently veterans, but also for active-duty members and be proactive for those who wish to call the commonwealth home to later have access to these facilities.”