While the main thrust of the National Veterans Small Business Conference is employment, jobs, and business growth, there’s also an enormous effort to inform Veterans about benefits and care.
Dozens of booths have been stood up for a VA Open House, and VA employees and volunteers have been on hand to help Veterans navigate benefits, sign up for health care, and find out more information on programs ranging from Voc Rehab to Homeless Veterans support. Veterans lined up to get accounts for eBenefits and MyhealtheVet as well.
On top of that, Veteran Service Organizations like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart are on hand to teach Vets about their groups.
I stopped by the Detroit VA Medical Center’s booth on PTSD and military sexual trauma (MST), and they told me they were surprised at how many Veterans didn’t know about the different types of treatment options available. One female Veteran found out she could qualify for MST benefits and walked away with an appointment for next week.
Families can be a huge help to get Veterans to seek care, and a wife of Vietnam Vet learned this earlier today. She walked by the PTSD booth and learned about symptoms and treatment for mental health injuries. She thought her husband could benefit from the information and came back later with him. He left with a better handle on his symptoms and a new understanding of the help available to him.
Navigating complex VA benefits and services can be tough for Veterans sometimes (I can say from experience), so it was refreshing to see Vets get no-nonsense, straightforward answers to questions and sign up for services—some of which they may not have known about otherwise.
So what do you think? Would an open house like this be helpful to you? Where should VA hold one next?