August 23, 2010
Ahoskie, Va. -- Local Veterans and family members turned out in large numbers at a Department of Veterans Affairs event here July 27.
More than 45 Veterans came with their families to American Legion Post 102 in Ahoskie to apply for VA health care benefits during an open enrollment seminar conducted by the Hampton VA Medical Center (VAMC) Rural Health Initiative (RHI) Team.
“We didn’t really know how many people were going to show up,” said post commander John Bracy, who was excited about the attendance. “We put the word out to our members but had no idea that we would see so many Vets.”
Congress created the Office of Rural Health in 2007. From that initiative, the VA RHI pilot program at the Hampton VAMC was launched, targeting Veterans in rural and highly rural areas defined by the United States census.
“Our main mission is to help Veterans living in rural areas understand what the VA has to offer,” said Kevin Amick, Rural Health Integrator at the Hampton VAMC. He continued, adding, “Each week we head out into the community conducting outreach events. Being here today with our VA pharmacist, nurse educators, social worker and other team members, we can provide personal assistance to Veterans, answer their questions and explain our services.
Amick said “Whether we are doing stand alone events with the VFWs, American Legions or setting up our tent at a community fair, it’s about reaching out and helping our Nation’s heroes.”
During the event, he noted some confusion about VA benefits in the community and emphasized how important the rural health mission is in providing Veterans an opportunity to meet face to face with representatives who can assist them with the application process.
“By the huge numbers we have of Veterans here today,” Amick said, “we can definitely say that the RHI team is meeting its goal helping Vets get the services they qualify for based on their military service.”
For information about VA benefits, Veterans in rural areas can contact the RHI Team at (757) 344-9501 for details or to schedule an event in your community.