More than 400 Florida Veterans helped through Virtual Veterans Experience Action Center
VA launched the first Virtual Veterans Experience Action Center (V-VEAC) July 29-31, 2020. The program proactively assisted veterans throughout the state of Florida with VA benefits, health care and resources in partnership with the Northeast Florida Community Veterans Engagement Board (CVEB) .
Virtual Veteran Outreach
More than 400 veterans received one-on-one assistance from the Virtual Veterans Experience Action Center. VA, State and Veteran and community based organizations helped eligible veterans in several areas. These included filing, updating and adjudicating claims; enrolling in VA health care and schedule medical appointments; access housing and temporary financial assistance and applying for Florida State Veterans’ Benefits Assistance.
Veterans eligible for VA health care and not previously enrolled could immediately connect for care during the event.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie welcomed veterans calling in to the Virtual Veterans Experience Action Center.
“Where all the resources of your VA and our state and local partners will be available to address your care, benefits and resources needs from wherever you are,” he said.
The first day of the event, a veteran called needing urgent medical attention. A supervisory social worker at the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic assisted the veteran. Staff enrolled the veteran in VA health care and arranged a medical rescue transfer to address his urgent medical needs. They also ensured coordination of care with a home health agency to support his ongoing needs.
Personalized Assistance Over the Phone
VA conducts Virtual Veterans Experience Action Centers over the telephone. Veterans, family members, caregivers and survivors can connect to the full range of VA and community-based services and resources in their region. Veterans who register receive a choice of appointment call times and contact with relevant personalized professional assistance.
“We were proud to partner with the VA on this virtual outreach event. We think this pilot program could be the start of a powerful new avenue to connect veterans nationwide with earned services, benefits and support,” said retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. James S. “Hammer” Hartsell, deputy executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “We made a positive difference in the lives of these veterans and their families and look forward to more of these events as we honor those who served us.”
The Florida event was the first VA Virtual Veterans Experience Action Center, with more planned for 2020.
“For many veterans around the Northeast Florida region, the last few months have been difficult to obtain one-on-one services, but we’re pleased to be able to ease some of the anxiety and stress of those who haven’t been able to get the assistance they needed,” said Jeff Winkler, Head of Basic Needs, Community Impact United Way of Northeast Florida. “We are excited with this partnership and the shift to a virtual platform because this service will make a substantial difference for under served veterans.”
Veterans requested three services most frequently during the event. In order, they were appeals status, assistance with a benefit claim increase, and assistance with a new claim.
While 10% of the local Florida Veteran community is female, 17% of those assisted were female callers. VA performed intentional outreach to this generally under represented veteran population.
A veteran family member shared, ‘I did not have an appointment, but you helped us anyway. Set my grandfather up for pension. I have a follow-up appointment to discuss eligibility after I gather the data. He is still a Marine in his nineties! Thanks for your support.’
Partnerships Offer Expanded Assistance
The Northeast Florida Community Veterans Engagement Board has long-standing partnerships. These include the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Florida Association of County Veterans Service Officers, Vietnam Veterans of America, The Fire Watch, Northeast Florida Women Veterans, Ascension St. Vincent’s, Veterans Council of Duval County, Cohen Veterans Network at Centerstone, United Way of Northeast Florida, and many others. These organizations were indispensable in providing service and support to those participating in the VA Virtual Veterans Experience Action Center.
“We were pleased to partner with the VA to offer expanded assistance to veterans experiencing homelessness or those who are at high risk,” said Michael Fleming, an Army Veteran and co-chair of the Northeast Florida Community Veterans Engagement Board.
For more information about VA’s Community Veteran Engagement Boards or to adopt the CVEB or Virtual Veterans Experience Action Center model in your community, please email Vet-FriendlyCommunities@va.gov.
To access general information about VA services such as disability, pension, healthcare eligibility, enrollment and burial benefits, Veterans can call toll-free to 1-844-MyVA311 (698-2311).
Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs