Veterans Corner: VA announces partnership to help veterans access virtual care

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    By Raymond Taylor
    Archuleta County Veterans Service Office

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced a new collaboration with Apple to increase veterans’ access to virtual care benefits.

    The VA’s iPad program provides qualifying veterans with cellular-enabled iPads to access telehealth services and currently helps more than 50,000 veterans across the country connect to VA health care services virtually.

    “VA will continue working diligently to provide veterans with the tools and resources necessary to access quality health care when and where they need it,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “VA’s partnership with Apple is an integral step in helping to bridge the digital divide for veterans everywhere. This is particularly critical during the COVID-19 public health emergency, when telehealth is being leveraged to protect the safety and well-being of both our veterans and clinicians.”

    The VA has been a leader in telehealth services for decades and began the Connected Tablet program in 2016. A VA study found veterans who received tablets reported high levels of satisfaction with care, were less likely to miss appointments, and found it easier and more convenient to access VA care.

    To standardize the program and provide veterans a consistent, quality experience, the VA will exclusively distribute iPads to veterans. iPads offer veterans the combination of portability, user experience, data privacy and security made possible through Apple’s integrated hardware and software platform. The collaboration between the VA and Apple, facilitated by the VA Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships, provides the VA with Apple’s expertise to help enhance the platform, and ensure veterans and health care professionals have the best telehealth experience.

    “VA’s iPad program provides unparalleled convenience and flexibility when attending my VA appointments,” said Fiona Garcia, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served from 2001-2011. “After receiving an iPad in March, I’ve been able to receive VA care when and where I need it most. The technology also allows me to stay connected with my doctors when I am not near a Wi-Fi connection or near the VA medical center.”

    As part of the VA’s commitment to supporting veteran health care, patients can also securely view and download their personal medical data using the Health Records on iPhone feature from Apple. 

    Veterans who don’t currently have a video-capable device or Internet service and are interested in the VA’s telehealth iPad program should consult their VA health care team to determine their eligibility.

    Visit Connected Care for more information about VA telehealth. 

    Vets4Vets grant

    Vets4Vets has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is to support veterans in our community through the following assistance: housing, utilities, mental health counseling, dental services, travel assistance, automobile repairs, gas and food cards, and emergency veteran assistance. 

    Contact Vets4Vets at 799-VETS or www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

    Contact information

    Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.

    For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office (VSO), located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

    The office: 264-4013, fax number: 264-4014, and email is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. Bring your DD Form 214 (discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO. Always leave a message and phone number to contact you.

    The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

    • American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

    • Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Tennyson Building Event Center, 197 Navajo Trail Drive. Breakfast meeting on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. Contact 799-8387 for more details.

    • Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.

    • Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: first and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Carter’s office; contact Charlotte at 903-9690.

    Important information

    • 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

    • Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

    • Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.

    • VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.

    • VA Health Care Emergency Notification: (844) 724-7842.

    The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.