Virtual Veterans Engagement Action Center
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More than 400 veterans saw action taken towards meeting their needs thanks to a recent first of its kind event in Jacksonville.
The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone was honored to collaborate with the Veterans Administration, Northeast Florida Community Veterans Engagement Board, and other partners to develop and implement the first in the nation Virtual Veterans Engagement Action Center (V-VEAC). Composed of the Veterans Administration (VA), regional, state, and local support organizations, the VEAC concept was created to provide claims/appeals assistance, healthcare consultation and appointment scheduling, mental health counseling, and various community information and services offerings.
Participants were given the opportunity to virtually speak one-on-one with service organization representatives prepared to address and alleviate their concerns such as VA claim issues, enrolling in the VA, financial assistance, mental health resources and more.
“While veterans can call the Veterans Administration any day of the week they want, we wanted to do something where we can streamline things for them,” outreach director for the Cohen Clinic at Centerstone, Brigadier General (ret) Michael Fleming said. “There are veterans out there who have earned benefits. This is not a gift from the government; being in the military, they have earned those benefits.”
VEACs have been successfully completed across the country and the original plan was to host a Jacksonville in-person VEAC in June 2020. However, with COVID-19 restrictions an in-person VEAC was not viable so an alternate plan was developed by the Northeast Florida team to host the nation’s first Virtual VEAC on July 29-31, 2020. This inaugural V-VEAC was very successful, serving more than 400 veterans in this three-day period. It not only served to provide expedited service and decisions on multiple VA issues but also featured support offerings from organizations of all types, on all levels of the government and the private sector to address and attempt to solve issues experienced by each individual Veteran, family member, caregiver and survivor on the spot, at the VEAC.
Jim Wartski, Executive Director of VA Veterans Experience Office indicated, “This is the proof of concept we hoped to achieve and will always be known as the first successful V-VEAC,” Jim Wartski, Executive Director of VA Veterans Experience Office said. “The leadership across Northeast Florida is greatly appreciated and we will take this V-VEAC concept nationally to enhance our support to veterans across our network.”