After Hurricane Matthew, VA staff deploys into the communities to help Veterans affected by flooding


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One team, VA Strong! That’s the VA’s response to Hurricane Matthew and the flooding it’s leaving behind across portions of North Carolina.

While for the past few weeks, you may have kicked off your day stopping by the local convenience store for a hot cup-a-joe, Durham and Fayetteville VA social workers began theirs visiting shelters to locate Veterans and their families who had been displaced by Matthew’s onslaught, providing services and transportation to ensure they are getting the care they need, when and wherever they may need it.

Here’s one Veteran’s reaction:

For VA staff, this has been the daily routine since the storm swept up the East Coast. After all, one team, VA strong has been a rallying cry, as VA employees from across the country arrived to assist in the VA mission of caring for the Veterans of North Carolina and serving civilians through humanitarian assistance, despite the storm and its devastation.

Despite those challenges, VA has remained steadfast in its mission. Two mobile sites were stood up, staffed by VA personnel from across the country, including Virginia, Georgia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Delaware, Florida and Illinois. Both sites provided medical care, mental health counseling, medication and hot food services to anyone who stopped by for assistance.

The first to open its trailer doors was the clinic in Laurinburg, North Carolina., for Veterans needing assistance in the Hoke, Robeson and Scotland County region due to impassable roads to the Robeson County Community Based Outpatient Clinic. The second was in Tarboro for Veterans in Edgecomb, Martin, Wilson, Greene and Pitt counties.

And VA community partners have eagerly stepped forward to assist. Three Wal-Mart stores offered large portions of their parking lots to setup the Mobile Medical Units (MMU), Fort Bragg’s Womack Army Medical Center offered space and assistance, local officials, and local Veteran services organizations helped spread the word about VA being on the ground, just name a few. Whatever it’s taken, the community engagement and working through the crisis has been a team effort.

image of the inside of a mobile pharmacyAt the Durham VA Medical Center’s Tarboro MMU site, Army Veteran Dennis Lyons stopped by to see if he could get a medication refilled for his wife under the unit’s humanitarian aid assistance mission. A short while later, his wife arrived and the VA staff worked through the process of providing just what she needed. Lyons shared his appreciation for assistance and immediately reached out to the rest of his family to let them know the VA was on the ground and could assist them as well.

“I think the VA’s awesome,” he told me. “You all are doing wonderful things for not just Veterans, but for everybody.”

At the Fayetteville medical center’s Laurinburg MMU site, located about two and a half hours southwest, Army Veteran Ramoan Hammond explained that his town of Maxton, was flooded and he still had no power. Without access to his Robeson clinic, he headed to the site after hearing about it on the radio. As he drank a hot coffee being offered by the Veterans Canteen Service truck, he told me of the community’s kindness and response to Matthew and how everyone was lending a helping hand, including the VA.

“On a scale of 1-10 I give the VA a 9,” Hammond proclaimed.

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About the author: Jennifer Askey is the VISN 6 communication director. She joined VA in 2010, first serving as the public affairs officer and congressional liaison at the Hampton VA Medical Center.

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Comments

  1. Cheryl Morris Gray    

    Sure in a perfect world there would not be a need for VA personnel to support veterans experiencing difficulties after natural disasters. However, I have had to survive, recover, rebuild and try to remain sane as I endure some of life’s most difficult events I ever had to live through. With inference to the historic flooding in southeastern Louisiana in August 2016. It was during this disaster where I have needed the most assistance from ANYONE! Period. Yet there’s no help for veterans via the VA for veterans to rely on after disasters. As I wait for federal assistance from FEMA since August, my home still requires repairs that I’m not able to afford. Yes the VA needs to seek ways to aid veterans who are victims of disasters.

  2. Bridget Brock    

    I really would like to know where they are and how to be see I have not seen any VA resources in Pender County. My ceilings have mold from the rain and we are getting sick. I need to file my VA claim too

  3. Julian Jimenez    

    Whelp that just delayed my VA claim another 90 days. Retired July 31 2016 and both Retirement pay and VA benefits have been in the development Al phase. Even after a second series of the same C&P exam. I’m still waiting.

  4. Mike K-ski    

    “Both sites provided medical care, mental health counseling, medication and hot food services to anyone who stopped by for assistance.”

    While it is a noble and commendable gesture to assist those that need help, why not use this extra time to actually do the job that the VA Personnel are being paid to do – help veterans! I am not in the area, but I am sure there are veterans there that are going through all of the same issues that veterans around the US are facing. Waiting MONTHS to get an appointment just to see a specialist (like an Ortho or Vascular Doctor). Then, after the tests are completed, AGAIN waiting months to be told the results! How would you like to be faced with an unknown problem, and not getting answers for 6 months???

    Leave the emergency response to those that are either FUNDED to do such work, or the volunteer / charitable organizations. And have VA personnel do what they have been hired to do – take care of the Veteran!

  5. Dennis Dixon    

    I only agree with the VA “deploying” to sites where a state of emergency exists to support the LOCAL VA HOSPITAL and provide continuing care to the veterans living in that area already under VA care. As for the support to the local communitym there are plenty of other emergency support teams provided by state and national entities, coordinated by FEMA, as it should be. Additional supplemental fundng should be sought and provided by Congress to allow such actions without impacting other veterans adversely.

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