SPOKANE — Spokane County Regional Veterans Service Center has relocated to a larger facility in Spokane Valley to serve veterans and their families.

County officials, employees and veterans celebrated relocation to the new facility at 1117 N. Evergreen Road with a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday.

“I was excited from the beginning for this new facility because it provides our veteran citizens an easily accessible opportunity to obtain the services they need and deserve,” county Commissioner Mary Kuney said in a statement. “This new service center will have a positive impact for regional veterans for many years to come.”

The facility is a significant upgrade from its previous location on the fourth floor of the Spokane County Regional Health Building, offering more space, ADA accessibility and free parking for visitors, said Cathrene Nichols, Spokane County and Eastern Washington Regional Veterans Services administrator.

“The idea is to create a positive environment when veterans walk through the door,” Nichols said.

Nichols said the veterans center received notice last year its lease in the county health building wouldn’t be renewed and that prompted a search for a new home. The center signed a 12-year lease with two options to renew for the Spokane Valley location.

The facility is operated by a public-private partnership between the county, the Washington state Department of Veterans Affairs and WestCare Foundation. Veterans can receive emergency financial assistance for housing, utilities and food, as well as help with VA claims and benefits, education, employment and counseling.

Spokane County Veteran Services has been a department within the county since 1952. Its origins can be traced back to the 1890s, when it was known as the Veteran’s Aid Bureau, administering emergency financial services to veterans, widows and their families. The county in 2017 collaborated with the Washington state Department of Veterans Affairs to expand and improve services.

Spokane County Veteran Services Officer Heather Drake said veterans seem to be enjoying the new facility.

“We’ve heard so from many of our clients who come in and say they feel special here,” she said. “The most important thing is the opportunity for growth and the future of what we can bring to veterans. The outcome is going to be absolutely wonderful for veterans in the region.”

Spokane resident Rufus Hoefer, a Vietnam veteran, said although the new facility is a longer drive than the county’s former facility at the regional health building, the environment is much more welcoming to visitors.

“This is beautiful. I’m amazed,” he said, referencing the building. “When you come through the front door, you feel at home.”