Veterans Deserve the Best Care

August 22, 2012

Our veterans are some of the most respected members of our society. The decision to sign up and serve our nation is not an easy one, but it is necessary to protect the things we all hold dear – including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Likewise, when veterans return home, they deserve only the best when readjusting to life at home. This means assistance with jobs, education, housing and healthcare. This week, I would like to share with you some of the history behind the VA healthcare system that provides important services to our veterans.

According to the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs, over 16,000 state residents have been deployed since September 11, 2001. When they return home, many veterans will be eligible for healthcare benefits from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. They may receive free or low-cost health care benefits if they have served in the active military, naval or air service and were honorably discharged and released or if they were a Reservist or National Guard member and were called to active duty by a Federal Order and completed the full call-up period.

Starting in 2009, the Department focused on a major reorganization to better serve our veterans. Among their major goals are eliminating veteran homelessness, enabling 21st century benefits delivery and services, automating GI Bill benefits, creating Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, improving veterans’ mental health and much more.

In our state, the VA Connecticut Healthcare System currently serves over 50,000 veterans living throughout southern New England. It has two main campuses located in West Haven and Newington and several community-based clinics that provide primary and mental health care. The West Haven Campus is home to a 150-bed, full-service hospital while the Newington campus provides outpatient services including medical, surgical and mental health care. The community-based clinics are located in the communities of Danbury, New London, Stamford, Waterbury, Windham and Winsted. In addition, the Errera Community Care Center in West Haven provides homeless outreach services, including job training and housing assistance. To learn more about the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, please visit their website at www.connecticut.va.gov.

In addition to the federal VA system, our state also has its own Department of Veterans’ Affairs that offers a wide array of services at a campus in Rocky Hill. The Connecticut State Veterans Home offers several benefits to veterans, including the state-of-the-art Sgt. John L. Levitow Veterans Health Center, a 50-bed substance abuse recovery program and a 500-bed Residential Program. To learn more about these services, please visit the Department website at www.ct.gov/CTVA.

In a more recent development, the state also recently announced plans to build the first memorial honoring all Connecticut veterans. Construction of the Connecticut State Veterans Memorial is slated to begin this fall in Minuteman Park across from the William A. O’Neill State Armory in Hartford. The memorial will serve as a site for official observances and ceremonies honoring past, present and future state veterans. A non-profit group called the Connecticut State Veterans Memorial, Inc. is managing the project. To learn more about the memorial or to make a donation, please visit their website at www.cthonorsvets.org.