Veteran’s Corner: VA reinstates in-person services at medical facilities

By Raymond Taylor
SUN Columnist

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced, as of mid-June, more than 100 VA medical facilities and medical centers (VAMCs) have reinstated at least one in-person service within their direct health care delivery system after certain services were temporarily on hold or reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

VA leadership reviews and considers many factors daily, including community infection rates, to determine when it is safe for a facility to expand services.

“We will continue to provide a safe environment for both veterans and employees,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “VA will also ensure the safety of patients and employees are a priority when implementing which Veterans Health Administration facilities move forward with expanding in-person services.”

The department’s focus has been to provide in-person care to veterans who have the greatest clinical need during the pandemic — while VAMCs remain open for urgent and emergency care services. For non-emergent care, telehealth appointments have been a valuable link between the VA and veterans during this challenging time; however, veterans should not delay contacting their care team to make an appointment if they have a medical concern.

The VA continues to increase telehealth appointments for veterans not in need of in-person services, which has now seen more than a 1,000 percent increase — totaling more telehealth visits in March 2020 than in all of 2019.

The VA will continue to use and expand innovative personalized telehealth options, phone consults and wellness checks regardless of a veteran’s geographic location. For information on which VAMCs are providing in-person services, contact the local VAMC directly. 

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call (800) 273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

For further information, please contact the Veteran Services Office (VSO).

The office of Archuleta County veterans service officer provides assistance to qualified military veterans, and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims. This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.

Contact information

Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.

For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County VSO, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

The office: 264-4013, fax number: 264-4014, and email is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office. Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.

• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: first and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Carter’s office; contact Charlotte at 903-9690.

Important information

• 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.

• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.

• VA Health Care Emergency Notification: (844) 724-7842.

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online, or text 838255.

This story was posted on July 12, 2020.