By Fernando Rodriguez
Representatives of the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center, located in Clarksburg, WV, held a Veteran Town Hall Meeting at the Braxton County Senior Citizens Center on Thursday, April 13, 2023. Senior VA officials were present to provide information to Veterans, their families, and their beneficiaries and to obtain feedback directly from those present at the meeting. Members of the panel included John Dominic Seti, Veterans Experience Officer, Barbara Forsha, Medical Center Director, Dr. Joy C. Chesnut, Associate Chief of Staff of Ambulatory Care, Ben Meinze, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, and from the Veterans Benefits Administration, Danny Henry and Jeffrey Porter. Multitasker Sean McGinty handled the Media/Event Management, served as greeter, and documented Veteran specific issues for follow-up.
Each of the panel members offered their specific information which included updates on the Community Based Outpatient Clinics, (CBOC) benefits of the PACT Act, which expanded and extended eligibility for VA health care for veterans with toxic exposures including Agent Orange, burn pits, and other toxic substances, and added two new conditions to the Agent Orange presumptive list, High Blood Pressure and Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance, (MGUS) and an alarming report on the frequency of suicides among military personnel. Veteran suicides occur at a higher rate than non-Veteran adults; 31.7 per 100,000 Veteran suicides vs 16.1 per 100,000 civilian suicides. It is estimated that 17 Veterans a day commit suicide in the U. S. Mr. Mainze discussed the importance for those Veterans that are thinking of hurting themselves and those that learn of a Veteran that is considering suicide to call the Veteran Crisis Line and speak confidentially with a responder. This service is private, free, and available 24/7. Call 988 and select 1.
Many may think that the LAJVAMC focuses on primary health care for Veterans, it also offers Caregiver Support, Homeless Veteran Care, Intimate Partner Violence support, LGBTQ+ Veteran care, Mental Health Care, Military Sexual Trauma Care, Minority Veteran Care, Audiology, Pain Management, Hospice and Palliative Care, Oncology, Blind and Low Vision Rehabilitation, and Laboratory Services. Contact the LAJVAMC through their main number 304-623-3461 or visit their Website https://www.va.gov/clarksburg-health-care/health-services/ The Braxton County Clinic is located at 40 Reston Place, Gassaway, WV 26624, call 304-364-4501.
Information on the PACT Act may be found at https://www.va.gov/resources/the-pact-act-and-your-va-benefits/
The Veterans Benefits Administration which provides additional benefits for Veterans including Outreach, Transition, and Economic Development, Compensation, Education and Training, Veteran Readiness & Employment, Home Loans, Life Insurance, Peansion, and many other services can be reached at https://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/ or by calling the main information line at 800-698-2411.
One may now reach VA care, benefits, and services and speak to a live agent which will connect you with VA Health Care, Community Health Care, National Cemeteries, Veterans Crisis Line, Debt Management, Facility Locator, Benefits Assistance, Homeless Veterans Line, and COVID-19 information by dialing 1-800-MyVA411 (698-2411)
If you are dealing with health conditions that make it difficult to travel, live too far from the nearest VA facility, have minor questions, or just don’t have time to attend an in-person appointment, you can have real-time access to VA Care via the VA Video Connect App. Call 866-651-3180 or visit https://mobile.va.gov/app/va-video-connect
My HealtheVet is a web-based personal health record that gives Veterans information and tools to improve their health online. Register online at https://www.myhealth.va.gov/mhv-portal-web/home
Visit the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VAClarksburg/ Visit the Veterans Health Administration-U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs FB page at https://www.facebook.com/VeteransHealth
If you cross paths with Veterans, thank them for their service.
By Fernando Rodriguez