Because of COVID-19, for the last few months, The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs has been conducting more and more healthcare meetings by video.
Not all locations have been closed though. In regions where it wasn’t feasible for them to open because of the high number of infections, the video healthcare sessions were the easiest and most effective way to treat our veterans.
Currently, there are 11 regional offices open and more to reopen in the coming weeks. The re-opening of more offices will take into consideration the location and local conditions. They will not reopen in areas that would put veterans, the general public, and government employees in danger of contracting COVID-19.
VA Secretary, Robert Wilkie, says, “We have robust safety measures in place that will allow us to resume in-person services while protecting the health and safety of veterans, their families, and our team members who serve them.”
All Regional offices will adhere to the guidelines set out by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). These include social distancing, face coverings, hand sanitizer, and asking sick individuals to stay home. All staff and patients will be updated frequently if there are any changes from the CDC.
While the offices have been closed these last few months, veterans have had to rely mostly on virtual healthcare appointments. These appointments were made possible by the many apps the VA has put into place for our Vets.
The VA was able to maintain its essential mission by caring for and treating our veterans through the use of these apps which all can be found at the Veteran’s Affairs website MyHealtheVet.
According to the VA, the video appointments increased from approximately 10,000 to 120,000 appointments a week between February and May of 2020.
For 2019, due in part to the VA’s initiative Anywhere to Anywhere, more than 2.6 million veterans were seen by a health care professional through video. It will be interesting to see the statistics for 2020.
The Veterans Benefits Administration’s return to normal procedures align with the White House guidelines for reopening. They will keep a close eye on any changes and adjust their strategy if needed.
Veterans can continue to interact with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) virtually for accessing benefits information online or when filing a claim online. For claim-specific questions call 1-800-827-1000. To check the availability of a regional office near you, visit VA benefits offices by clicking here.