WASHINGTON (Feb. 26, 2010) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs announced the award of two contracts totaling $41.5 million to create a "polytrauma center" that cares for the most severely injured Veterans and to improve the existing wards at the Audie L. Murphy VA Medical Center.

"A top priority for VA is providing greater access to VA's health care system and higher quality of care for the nation's veterans," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. "America's veterans have earned the very best that this nation has to offer."

One contract announced by Shinseki provides $37.2 million to Robins and Morton of Birmingham, Ala. The contract calls for construction of a three-story, 84,000-square foot "polytrauma center." It would include physical medicine, rehabilitation services, prosthetics service and research.

"Polytrauma" refers to health care for veterans who have more than one severe, life-threatening medical problem. Many of VA's polytrauma patients are recent combat veterans injured by roadside bombs and other explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials said.

A second contract, valued at $4.3 million, went to Strategic Perspectives Development of San Antonio, Texas. It provides for upgrades and expansion to ward 4-A, including electrical work, utilities, fire alarm and fire protection systems, telephone and data systems, and asbestos abatement.

Last year, VA spent more than $7.8 billion in Texas on behalf of the state's 1.7 million veterans. VA operates 11 major medical centers in the state, more than 40 outpatient clinics, 14 Vet Centers and six national cemeteries.