By Raymond Taylor
Archuleta County Veterans Service Office
This September, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes Suicide Prevention Month, highlighting the VA’s Be There campaign reminding veterans and their loved ones that small actions can make a big difference to veterans going through difficult times.
During this and every month, Be There wants veterans, community leaders and veterans’ families and friends to know there is no special training needed to give a veteran hope.
“There are simple ways anyone can show support for our nation’s veterans like learning about VA’s suicide prevention efforts and recognizing the signs that a veteran may need help,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Take a moment to listen with compassion and let veterans know you’re there for them.”
Be There suggests several simple actions that can help make a difference for a veteran, to include:
• Reaching out to veterans by sending a check-in text, cooking them dinner or simply asking them how they’re doing.
• Learning about the warning signs of suicide found on the Veterans Crisis Line website.
• Watching the free S.A.V.E. training video to learn how to respond with care and compassion if someone indicates they are having thoughts of suicide.
• Contacting the VA’s Coaching Into Care program where a licensed psychologist or social worker will provide loved ones with guidance for motivating veterans to seek support.
• Sharing stories of hope and recovery from the VA’s Make the Connection.
For more information and resources, visit BeThereForVeterans.com.
exceeds annual goal
The VA announced the Board of Veterans’ Appeals has exceeded its annual goal of issuing 91,500 appeals decisions in fiscal year 2020.
The board reached this goal weeks ahead of schedule and is on track to issue more decisions.
“This goal was reached ahead of schedule despite the challenges and difficulties of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Wilkie said. This shows the board’s agility, flexibility and most importantly its unwavering commitment to veterans.”
The board was able to quickly pivot to a 99 percent telework environment at the onset of COVID-19, to ensure that appeals decisions on VA benefits and services to veterans were not delayed.
It has also provided veterans the option to choose virtual tele-hearings, allowing them to continue to hold hearings before the board in a safe, no-contact environment. Since March 23, the board has held more than 3,000 virtual tele-hearings and continues to increase capacity for more veterans to transition to a virtual hearing environment.
Vets4Vets has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is to support veterans in our community through the following assistance: housing, utilities, mental health counseling, dental services, travel assistance, automobile repairs, gas and food cards, and emergency veteran assistance.
Contact Vets4Vets at 799-VETS or www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.
Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office (VSO), located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.
The office: 264-4013, fax number: 264-4014, and email is firstname.lastname@example.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. Always leave 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.
• 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.