VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System (ECHCS) will host a resource fair and town hall on Thursday, Feb. 16, in Alamosa. The event is one of a series of rural resource fairs across the state.
The Alamosa VA Resource Fair and Town Hall will be held from 1-4 p.m. at the Colorado National Guard Readiness Center at 1877 Old Sanford Road in Alamosa. The Valley has around 4,800 veterans.
VA ECHCS provides care for more than 100,000 Veterans in eastern Colorado and surrounding states. The resource fairs are an opportunity for thousands of rural veterans to get one-on-one support with understanding, accessing and using their benefits and services.
VA health care and benefits expanded in August for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. President Joe Biden signed the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, or PACT Act, into law Aug. 10, expanding care for hundreds of thousands of Vietnam-era, Gulf War-era and post-9/11 Veterans.
During the fairs, veterans and survivors can speak with a VA benefits specialist about PACT Act-related eligibility. When confirmed eligible, veterans will get assistance with enrolling and scheduling an initial appointment. Enrolled veterans will be offered an on-site toxic-exposure screening by a VA nurse, then given information about follow-up screenings.
Enrolled veterans can also get help with community care consults, beneficiary travel claims, caregiver support and home and community-based services for extended care needs.
Community leaders can learn how local providers partner with VA and keep veteran care timely and convenient and meeting individual needs or circumstances, as well as explore community-based initiatives to end homelessness and prevent suicide.
During the culminating town halls, VA ECHCS Director Michael Kilmer will encourage an exchange of information and feedback that will help VA meet veteran needs. Discussions last year, when more than 110,000 community care consults were completed, underlined a need to create liaison positions at every VA outpatient clinic.
“These liaisons will work side-by-side with community providers to put in a consult and immediately process it,” said Kilmer, explaining the on-site resource for both veterans and providers. “There will be someone in the clinics that they can speak with in-person.”
Kilmer says enrolling helps inform VA health care infrastructure investment strategies.
“Registering is one way to keep resources available to vulnerable veterans,” he said. “We’ve heard that a lot of veterans feel enrolling for VA care could take it away from someone who needs it more, but every enrolled veteran brings VA resources to our communities.”
“If you don’t need it now, you may one day. Even if you already get care elsewhere, it’s a fallback.”
For more information on how to apply, including the documents needed to determine eligibility, visit VA.gov/health-care/how-to-apply.