VA’s VAntage Point blog has the latest information on hurricane impact to VA facilities and services. For those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, click here. For information on Hurricane Irma, click here.
VA’s Beaumont Outpatient Clinic has been closed for several days since Harvey landed due to heavy local flooding and road closures. But that has not stopped VA clinic staff from their mission of taking care of Veterans. Beaumont VA social worker Angela Rutledge and peer support specialist Sheila Criddell have been volunteering their time at the Red Cross Shelter in Lumberton, Texas, where they are assisting Veterans displaced and staying at the shelter.
“We helped coordinate with local CVS to obtain prescription needs for Veterans through VA’s pharmacy disaster relief plan,” said Rutledge. “Yesterday, I also had the opportunity to hold a group session with the Veterans at the shelter to process their feelings in response to the devastation from Harvey.” Rutledge stated that three of the Veterans she has assisted have lost their entire homes and vehicles and had recently cancelled their flood insurance policies.
“Through our group discussion, the Veterans were able to validate each other’s feelings while also finding a sense of relief and hope,” said Rutledge. “The group of seven Veterans were able to bond with each other and share Veteran resources amongst each other.” She went on to give them helpful information for VA benefits and health care referral.
The VA’s MyHealthevet program, which allows Veterans to email their providers and renew their medications online, has been invaluable to Rutledge and the Veterans on the ground. She has been able to use her smartphone to assist Veterans in pulling up their prescriptions and then work with them and CVS to make sure they are taken care of. “Having these patients’ medication lists and basic medical information at my fingertips through MyHealthevet has been a lifesaver,” she said.
As the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, Rutledge feels passionately about her job at the VA and about each and every Veteran she sees. “I have always loved my job, but to witness the sense of relief in these Veterans’ faces when they saw that VA care was accessible and we were here during such a tragic event, is truly the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.”
Note: VA is working hard to get the Beaumont VA Outpatient clinic up and running. In the meantime, Veterans who need medical or mental health assistance can call 936-671-4300.
About the author: Maureen Dyman is a pubic affairs specialist with the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston.