Staff from the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport has deployed teams to each shelter location to provide care for survivors of Hurricane Ida.

Hurricane Ida did more than leave a wake of destruction amidst severe flooding, infrastructure breakdowns and region-wide power outages to Southern Louisianians. It left hundreds of Louisiana neighbors without a home and a need for shelter.

The cities of Shreveport and Monroe have activated significant shelter locations. They are identifying the need to open more shelters if occupancy levels exceed bed limits.

Among the survivors of Hurricane Ida are people of all ages, including infants.

Veterans among the survivors

These populations have a distinct group among the masses: Veterans who have served their country make up a segment of the evacuees. The Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport has deployed teams to each shelter location.

VA employees from the business office, Health Care for Homeless Veterans, and the Vet Center deployed to shelters in Shreveport and Monroe following Hurricane Ida.

Small comforts

Vietnam Veteran Paul Gratt arrived at the Shreveport shelter, where he was greeted by Shreveport staff. The Army Veteran was grateful for the warm reception so far from his home in Lafayette.

“The VA staff got me fixed up with a cot that supports my back better,” Gratt said. “So far, everything has been fine. It’s quiet, cool and everyone is conscientious.”

So far, so good

“I did not expect to talk to someone from VA,” said Donald Chauvin, and Army Veteran who arrived from Houma, Louisiana, on Aug. 28. “Being able to connect is good because we are not sure when we can return, but so far, so good.”

Most of the evacuees seemed to be from Houma on this day. More evacuees are expected over the next few days or longer.

Grin and bear it

“I’m grateful to know I can speak to someone about medical issues,” noted Harry Rouyer from Houma. “The situation is bearable but I would like to be home,” said the Army Veteran. “It’s good you guys from Shreveport are here.”

Mobile Vet Center on the scene to help Hurricane Ida survivors.

Mobile Vet Center on the scene to help hurricane survivors.

“For the most part, things have been OK,” mentioned Navy Veteran Dwayne Detillier. “I’ve started a discussion about medical appointments at the Monroe clinic.”

Local support

“From the moment we heard shelters were opening, we had staff on the ground in Shreveport and Monroe,” explained Mike Smith, peer support specialist with the Health Care for Homeless Veterans program. “We are tracking each Veteran we identify to ensure they know we are here for health care needs, counseling, clothing, or just answering questions.”

While response and recovery efforts continue, Shreveport VA will support Veterans who evacuated from Hurricane Ida’s path. Shreveport VA staff are available at the shelters to provide mental health counseling, and to help with VA enrollment to address health care requirements and other needs for Veterans and families in some cases.

By Shannon Arledge is a public affairs officer for the Shreveport VA.

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Published on Sep. 5, 2021

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