The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to expand offerings to Veterans by working with partner organizations from state and local communities to host virtual events through Virtual Veterans Experience Action Centers or V-VEACs.
And while these events are virtual, the impacts are very real to the Veterans, family members, caregivers, and survivors who benefit from this innovative approach to providing immediate action to alleviate gaps in care and coverage.
“It’s really good,” said Amerfino Aquipel, Veteran and Greater Los Angeles Area V-VEAC participant. “I contacted VA 15 years ago and never received this kind of service. I was guided where I needed to be the whole time. Being able to talk to someone made the difference instead of writing a letter and not knowing where to turn. I didn’t feel lost anymore. This is a great service, and now I have someone representing my claim.”
In September, VA partnered with the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to conduct the latest V-VEAC in southern California. Key to the success of the event were 124 individual support staff from 13 organizations, all working for the shared purpose of improving outcomes for LA-area Veterans.
Greater Los Angeles area V-VEAC: Another successful day for Veterans
Rather than attempting to cover the entire state of California, the Los Angles area event focused on five counties due to the density of the Veteran population in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Kern, and San Luis Obispo counties.
Interest in the southern California V-VEAC was significant, with 537 appointment registrations scheduled leading up to the event. Of the Veterans registered, 89 were women Veterans, representing nearly 17% of all participants. Veterans from every branch of service and each decade – 1940 to present – participated in the event.
Staff provided a wide range of services for Veterans, including the most frequent requests: filing new claims (27.9%), other information or services (12.8%), and checking the status of a claim (10.8%). In addition, VA staff and partner organizations assisted 12 homeless Veterans; referred 140 Veterans to Veterans Health Administration and 132 to the Veterans Benefits Administration; and more than 20 Veterans received support from the National Cemetery Administration. The Veteran Peer Action Network assisted 52 Veterans and connected them to community services.
Reports of Veteran outcomes
Each Veteran’s experience with the V-VEAC is unique and the feedback from their experiences sheds light on the effects and success of the events.
After being assisted in the Los Angeles area V-VEAC, Veteran Lui Toilolo commented, “This event has changed my life. I’m so grateful and hope other Veterans get to experience this one-stop-shop.” Lui also stated that he’d gotten the run-around over the course of years, but now, he is grateful for this event.
Veteran Filipe Ruelas, said of his experience, “A relief. No one else would return my phone calls or emails. Let’s me know I am getting a step further. Took me 18 years to get my medical records. The frustration level was crazy, but I am way more comfortable now.”
Partnerships expand the reach
The VEACs are a multiple event opportunity to reach Veterans, families, caregivers, survivors and service members where they are. VA also partners with RallyPoint to address specific questions during live question and answer sessions. In October, 15 VA and community partners addressed questions of 160 individuals who participated.
These innovative partnerships between VA, states, county Veteran service officers, Community Veteran Engagement Boards, and other community partners continues to improve outcomes for Veterans, family members, caregivers, and survivors. VA continues to seek ways to tailor to the unique needs of and ensure the maximum benefit to Veterans.
Veterans Experience Office is hosting a V-VEAC in Southern Texas, Nov. 16-18, 2021. To learn more and register for the Southern Texas event, please visit www.va.gov/VEAC