PLAINS TWP. — U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie says the VA will at all times have a big footprint in Pennsylvania due to the excessive variety of veterans dwelling within the state.
“When individuals from Pennsylvania go off and serve, they arrive again residence to reside and work right here,” Wilkie mentioned Wednesday. “There are only a few states the place the share of residents serving in army is as excessive as it’s right here.”
Wilkie was on the town to go to the VA Medical Middle in Plains Township the place he toured the power, talked to sufferers and workers and thanked them for a job properly completed in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I needed to thank the parents right here for a job properly completed,” Wilkie mentioned. “The have taken care of 112 Pennsylvanians who had COVID-19 and most of the workers had been deployed to different VAs.”
Wilkie harassed Pennsylvania’s sturdy army custom as he talked about preparations being made within the occasion of a recurrence of the coronavirus.
“We wish to be sure that we’re ready and that each one needed provides are in place,” Wilkie mentioned. “We talked concerning the experiences of the pandemic and the numerous classes that had been discovered.”
Wilkie mentioned the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Middle continues screening measures for all people getting into the medical middle and its neighborhood based mostly outpatient clinics.
To this date, Wilkie mentioned the Wilkes-Barre middle has not encountered any pandemic associated challenges with staffing, providers or gear.
“We proceed to carefully monitor the pandemic and alter operations as essential to guarantee the continued supply of secure dependable care whereas sustaining the protection of our veterans and workers,” Wilkie mentioned.
Wilkie additionally talked at-length concerning the Vietnam veterans, noting that they’re the most important variety of veterans served by the VA.
“We’re lastly closing one of many final loops for Vietnam vets in order that they may obtain all the advantages all different veterans have obtained,” Wilkie mentioned.
Wilkie famous that he simply despatched to Congress the most important price range in historical past for the VA — $240 billion — and the U.S. Home of Representatives elevated it by $10 billion.
“And that was OK with us,” he mentioned. “We’ve highest approval rankings in historical past and our belief and approval scores are sitting at 90 %. It’s a really completely different world right this moment.”
Wilkie additionally mentioned the persistent backlog of VA claims has been diminished considerably.
“We’re getting significantly better at that,” Wilkie mentioned. “When it comes to appeals, we’re approach down and our ready instances instances are significantly better.”
Wilkie additionally famous that the VA now presents veterans the choice of getting therapy within the non-public sector.
“Is we will’t present the wanted providers inside an affordable time, then veterans can search therapy within the non-public sector,” Wilkie mentioned. “Particularly when lengthy journey distances are required.”
Wilkie mentioned the VA set a report of 58.9 million veterans served.
“It’s additionally vital that veterans choose coming to a VA facility as a result of they wish to go the place individuals perceive the tradition and communicate their language,” Wilkie mentioned. “The VA is greater than only a medical facility — it’s a spot the place veterans can come to speak and share the identical experiences.”
Wilkie mentioned the VA needed to shut its services to guests in the course of the pandemic, making it tough for households of veterans, many from World Battle II and Korea.
“That was an extremely powerful choice to make,” Wilkie mentioned. However in so doing, we had been capable of save lives.”
Wilkie mentioned PREVENTS — the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and Finish a Nationwide Tragedy of Suicide.
On the Wilkes-Barre facility, the Suicide Prevention Crew continues to conduct outreaches, though in a digital format given the impacts of COVID-19.
Yr thus far, the group has:
• Participated in 86 outreach occasions.
• Skilled over 200 First Responders on Operation S.A.V.E. Coaching for native Disaster Intervention Packages.
• Maintained sturdy supporting relationships with all (19) County Administrators of Veterans Affairs and Vet Middle Outreach Coordinators (2).
• Corresponded and collaborated with county coroners and funeral houses to attach with relations of veterans misplaced to suicide in an effort to attach relations with providers.
• Answered, referred and closed 380 consults from the Veterans and Army Disaster Line.
• Hosted a Suicide Prevention Month, Vacation Occasion and Spring Fling on the medical middle to tell veterans and relations of providers obtainable by the VA or inside the neighborhood.
Wilkes-Barre’s Well being Take care of Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program is presently offering outreach and case administration providers to 26 actively homeless veterans. The Well being Take care of Homeless Veterans program is concentrated on supply case administration providers to Veterans which are homeless within the shelter system or unsheltered.
There are presently 54 Veterans within the grant per Diem program, which is a neighborhood based mostly VA funded Transitional Housing. The housing placement permits veterans to stay in transitional housing for 24 months to develop a housing stabilization plan.
Veterans who’re homeless or at imminent threat of homelessness are strongly inspired to contact the Nationwide Name Middle for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838) for help.