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It took a bit of persuasion for Caleb New to believe his wife ought to go to Salt Lake City's VA hospital for, of all things, prenatal care.

"I had a little hesitation. What's the VA going to know about delivering a baby?" Caleb said Friday, as he held his tiny new daughter, Alicia, in his arms.

His wife, veteran Tammy New, delivered the 7-pound, 9-ounce baby Thursday after 36 hours of labor, induced Tuesday night by Susan Rose, the obstetrician-gynecologist who is the medical director of the Women's Program at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Tammy New, 29, was the first VA patient to receive all of her prenatal care from the VA, even though her VA doctor had to check her into the University of Utah Hospital for the birth. The VA does not have the space or equipment for delivering babies.

"It's a big deal," said VA spokesman Jose Gomez.

In the past, the VA would pay for female veterans to receive their maternity care from other doctors. But as the number of such veterans increases, the hospital is offering more services. Salt Lake City's VA hospital is one of only two in the nation that employ an obstetrician, Gomez said. The other is in Tucson, Ariz.

Some 3,000 women veterans receive their care at the hospital's women's program, which has evolved from a clinic created in 1998.

A second female veteran also gave birth under Rose's care on Thursday, but she did not have all her prenatal care through the VA, Gomez said.

Tammy New joined the Utah National Guard in her early 20s but injured her hip during basic training and had to have a medical discharge after less than five years. She's a student at Weber State University and lives in Layton with her husband.

It was her father, a Vietnam veteran who spent a career in military service, who first gave her a brochure about the women's program. She didn't even realize she was entitled to health care before seeking treatment related to her hip several years go.

The maternity care, she said, was "great."

Caleb New, a computer programmer, said it was "amazing" to save thousands of dollars with VA care. "The care was top-notch. It's not like we had to sacrifice quality."

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