Coronavirus Update for First District Veterans
From Jack Bergman, U.S. Representative for Michigan
1st Congressional District
With reports yesterday of confirmed Coronavirus cases in Otsego and Grand Traverse Counties, we know we must prepare, and take this illness seriously. Michigan's First District is home to over 50,000 of our nation's Veterans. As a Veteran and member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, I'm working to do my part to help ensure those who are serving and those who have served are protected and prepared.
I've compiled some Veteran-specific information that I believe will be helpful, and I encourage you to share it with our great Veteran community. As always, my staff and I remain available to help you navigate through these uncertain days, so don't hesitate to give us a call.
What should Veterans do if they think they have COVID-19?
Before visiting local VA medical facilities, community providers, urgent care centers, or emergency departments in their communities, Veterans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms—such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath—are encouraged to call their VA medical facility or call MyVA311(844-698-2311, press #3 to be connected).
Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet, VA’s online patient portal. VA clinicians will evaluate Veterans’ symptoms and direct them to the most appropriate providers for further evaluation and treatment. This may include referral to state or local health departments for COVID-19 testing.
What about routine appointments and previously scheduled procedures?
VA is encouraging all Veterans to call their VA facility before seeking any care—even previously scheduled medical visits, mental health appointments, or surgical procedures. Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet and find out whether they should still come in for their scheduled appointments. VA providers may arrange to convert appointments to video visits, where possible.
Can visitors still access VA medical facilities?
Many VA medical facilities have canceled public events for the time being, and VA is urging all visitors who do not feel well to postpone their visits to local VA medical facilities. Facilities have also been directed to limit the number of entrances through which visitors can enter. Upon arrival, all patients, visitors, and employees will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposure.
What about VA nursing homes and spinal cord injury units?
On March 10, 2020, VA announced that its 134 nursing homes (also called VA community living centers) and 24 spinal cord injury and disorder centers would be closed to all outside visitors. All clinical staff will be screened for COVID-19 daily before entering the nursing home or spinal cord injury units, and staff will work only within those units to limit possible transmission of the virus. Exceptions to the visitor policy will only be made for cases when veterans are in their last stages of life on hospice units or inpatient spinal cord injury units.
Saginaw VA Medical Center
Veterans who utilize the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw, are encouraged to visit www.saginaw.va.gov for the latest information and updates. Additionally, all activities/events at the VA have been canceled for 30 days or until further notice. Admissions to our Community Living Center or Palliative Care Unit are restricted at this time. Certain criteria will need to be met to be admitted to assure the Veteran is free of the Coronavirus before admission.
The VA is not allowing visitors to their Community Living Center, and there are restrictions on the number of visitors on the Palliative Care (end of life) Unit.
Iron Mountain VA Medical Center
Veterans who utilize the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain are encouraged to visit www.ironmountain.va.gov for the latest information. For the safety of patients, visitors and staff, the Iron Mountain VA Medical Center is changing its visitation policy for all its health care facilities in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin to help to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. Effective at noon CST, March 16th, the VA medical center and its seven community-based VA clinics are not allowing visitors for most patients and staff until further notice.
Visitors will be prohibited from entering the medical center unless it is necessary for providing medical care, supporting patient care activities, or visiting under exigent circumstances, such as grave illness or imminent death of a family member under care in the facility.
The VA has implemented an aggressive public health response to protect and care for Veterans in the face of this emerging health risk. We are working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal partners to monitor the outbreak of the virus.
VA has administered over 100 COVID-19 tests nationwide while taking aggressive steps to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
These measures include outreach to Veterans and staff, clinical screening at VA health care facilities, and protective procedures for patients admitted to community living centers and spinal cord injury units. To learn more, click HERE.
We'd like to thank everyone that turned out tonight (Monday, March 16th) to donate blood. We had an awesome turnout. By 5:00 p.m. the Red Cross Volunteers only had 3 bags left in their supply kit to be filled. Thank you all for thinking of the needs of our community during this uncertain time.
We look forward to seeing you soon!
Attention All VFW Post 1454 Members & Auxiliary:
Our thanks to the Alma Fire District for helping us give a warm welcome the Nozzlemen MC for their annual ride-in to our Post. Alma Fire District brought in the big rig to hoist a very big flag. What an impressive sight! Thank you Alma Fire District and Nozzlemen MC for your service to the public and your continued support of local Veterans!
May is Motorcycle Awareness Month
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a national initiative aimed at getting motorists and motorcyclists to “Share the Road." Help make the road safe for all motorists. Review the following safety tips from The National Highway Traffic Administration.
Each year our Post places an American flag on every Veteran's grave in Chapel Gardens, New Haven Township & Riverside Cemeteries. Unfortunately, not all of our Comrade's grave sites indicate their service to our nation. It is our goal to ensure all Veterans receive proper acknowledgment for their service, especially our fallen Comrades. All deceased Veterans discharged under honorable conditions who served in the Armed Forces after April 6, 1917 are eligible to receive a grave medallion regardless of their date of death.
If you are interested in applying for a medallion for your loved one, please read on for more information & watch the two Youtube videos listed below. A link to Form 40-1330M with instructions is also listed below so you can easily download & print the application form.
Once you have obtained a medallion, our VFW Post Members would be happy to place the medallion for you should you need assistance. Please stop by VFW Post 1454 or contact us for more information.
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides a medallion, by request, to be affixed to an existing, privately purchased headstone or marker to signify the deceased's status as a Veteran.
This device is furnished in lieu of a traditional Government headstone or grave marker for those Veterans who served on or after Apr. 6, 1917 and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.
Why choose a medallion: Bronze medallions are durable and can be easily affixed to privately purchased headstones by anyone, avoiding headstone or marker setting fees. The medallion also offers a way to identify the grave as that of a Veteran when a cemetery only allows one headstone per grave, preventing the use of a standard VA marker as a footstone.
Sizes: The medallion is available in three sizes: Large (6-3/8”W x 4-3/4”H x 1/2”D), Medium (3-3/4”W x 2-7/8”H x 1/4"D) and Small (2”W x 1-1/2”H x 1/3”D). Each medallion is inscribed with the word “VETERAN” across the top and the branch of service at the bottom.
Once a claim for a medallion is received and approved, VA will mail the medallion along with a kit that will allow the family or the staff of a private cemetery to affix the device to a headstone, grave marker, mausoleum or columbarium niche cover.
Important: This benefit is only applicable if the grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker. In these instances, eligible Veterans are entitled to either a traditional Government-furnished headstone or marker, or the new medallion, but not both.
For family members of eligible Veterans interested in submitting a claim for the medallion, instructions on how to apply for a medallion are available. Please use: VA Form 40-1330M, Claim for Government Medallion for Placement in a Private Cemetery
This Information provided by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. For more information visit www.va.gov
Thank you for honoring & supporting local Veterans!
“CALL TO ACTION” FOR MILITARY SUICIDE PREVENTION ADVOCATES
4 STEPS TO ASSESSING SUICIDE RISK AMONG VETERANS
LOOK for the warning signs. These warning signs require immediate attention & referral.
Additional Warning Signs - Any of these signs, refer for mental health treatment.
ASSESS for risk and protective factors that may increase or decrease risk for suicide.
ASK the questions (these are very serious questions)
RESPONDING to suicide risk
FACTORS THAT MAY DECREASE RISK
This information is provided by the Suicide Risk Assessment Guide from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs guide.
Remember - Only trained medical professionals can diagnose a Veteran but we as individuals must be aware that Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder is real and it is a hidden factor that effects many.
Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 press 1
or Online Chat at: www.VeteransCrisisLine.net
The number listed above is a direct line to the Veteran Crisis Line who can assist the Veteran to the nearest VA Hospital.
Your awareness & actions may help to save the life of someone who fought to protect yours!
Leslie C. McLean