Nearly a thousand Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors attended a Veterans Experience Action Center (VEAC) in Montgomery, Ala., on Feb. 5, 2020. Those in attendance received direct access to VA’s benefits and services. The one-stop shop for Veterans brought together VA and community resources with one goal: to serve Veterans on the spot.
This was the second year the community held the action center. Seventy local organizations provided a host of services at the VEAC, including on the spot job interviews, flu inoculations, free haircuts, access to healthcare organizations, mental health services, and dozens of other local assistance programs. The vast outpouring and variety of support ensured that VEAC participants knew the community was there to support them.
Veterans Experience Action Centers are different than other outreach events because Veterans are able to file claims, ask questions, and apply to VA benefits and healthcare within minutes of showing up. In addition to the amazing community organizations and Veteran Service Organizations in attendance, more than 50 VA employees were also on site to process actions immediately. Even members of the the Air Force showed up, directing Veterans to booths and cooking hot dogs!
A Veteran in attendance said, “I came here for some information, and all I really wanted was this form just so I can know what to do… and I ended up filing my claim today!”
TVA again held the event at the Multiplex’ Cramton Bowl, this year with more than 70 booths. Some of the organizations included Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Walgreens, Humana Health, and many more.
Some Veteran find that VA processes can be overwhelming, or that the eligibility or rules and regulations are hard to understand. Instead of waiting for Veterans to come to VA, VA is getting into the community where Veterans reside. VA will also be setting up these events across the country. In fact, several VA leaders from Kentucky were in attendance to better prepare for their upcoming Veterans Experience Action Center in Lexington, Ky.
One Veteran showed up just before the event wrapped up. She was in tears, sharing her struggles with transition to civilian life, PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma as a military retiree. She had recently submitted a compensation claim but did not understand her award letter. Veterans Benefits Administration employees explained to her what the claim’s decision meant, and then also shared that she was eligible for concurrent military and VA benefits.
For a list of future VA outreach events, including Veterans Experience Action Centers, visit: https://www.va.gov/outreach-and-events/events/