Before visiting local VA medical facilities, community providers, urgent care centers, or emergency departments in their communities, veterans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms—such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath—are encouraged to call their VA medical facility or call MyVA311 (844-698-2311, press #3 to be connected). Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet, VA’s online patient portal. VA clinicians will evaluate veterans’ symptoms and direct them to the most appropriate providers for further evaluation and treatment. This may include referral to state or local health departments for COVID-19 testing.
The significant impact COVID-19 has on daily routines may cause unanticipated stress on some veterans in crisis. Help is available for veterans in crisis by calling the Veteran Crisis Line at 1 (800) 273-8255 and pressing 1, at VeteransCrisisLine.Net/Chat, or by texting 838255.
What about routine appointments and previously scheduled procedures?
VA is encouraging all veterans to call their VA facility before seeking any care—even previously scheduled medical visits, mental health appointments, or surgical procedures. Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet and find out whether they should still come in for their scheduled appointments. VA providers may arrange to convert appointments to video visits, where possible.
Can visitors still access VA medical facilities?
Many VA medical facilities have canceled public events for the time being, and VA is urging all visitors who do not feel well to postpone their visits to local VA medical facilities. Facilities have also been directed to limit the number of entrances through which visitors can enter. Upon arrival, all patients, visitors, and employees will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposure.
What about VA nursing homes and spinal cord injury units?
On March 10, 2020, VA announced that its 134 nursing homes (also called VA community living centers) and 24 spinal cord injury and disorder centers would be closed to all outside visitors. All clinical staff will be screened for COVID-19 daily before entering the nursing home or spinal cord injury units, and staff will work only within those units to limit possible transmission of the virus. Exceptions to the visitor policy will only be made for cases when veterans are in their last stages of life on hospice units or inpatient spinal cord injury units.
What about student veterans?
Student Veterans will continue to receive their GI Bill benefits under S. 3503, which President Trump signed into law March 21. The law enables VA to continue providing the same level of education benefits to students having to take courses online due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The law gives VA temporary authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted in the event of national emergencies. This allows for continued payment of benefits even if the program has changed from resident training to online training. Thanks to the law, GI Bill students will continue receiving the same monthly housing allowance (MHA) payments they received for resident training until Dec. 21, or until the school resumes in-person classes. Students receiving GI Bill benefits are not required to take any action. Benefits will continue automatically. VA will work closely with schools to ensure accurately certified enrollments and timely processing. Updates will be provided to students via direct email campaigns and social media regarding VA’s effort to implement these new changes. Students with specific questions can contact the Education Call Center at: 888-442-4551 between 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday-Friday.
Can veterans get stimulus checks?
The IRS launched a new web tool allowing quick registration for Economic Impact Payments for those who don’t normally file a tax return. The non-filer tool, provides a free and easy option designed for people who don’t have a return filing obligation – such as our most vulnerable veterans who rely on VA disability benefits. This tool will help veterans who wouldn’t normally file a tax return receive their economic impact payment faster. Click here to get started with the non-filer tool and click here for information on what veterans need to know about accessing their COVID-19 economic impact payment.
Navy Exchange Orlando (7151 Earhart Dr, Orlando, FL 32827): During this difficult time, we would like everyone to know that the main store of the Navy Exchange remains open and is here for our patrons. We are happy to report that we are back in stock for most grocery items. We are still limited on hand sanitizer, paper products, and cleaning supplies but continue to receive these products from our central warehouse. Our retail side including jewelry, electronics, handbags, and clothing is still open. Due to COVID-19 the Barber Shop, and MWR are closed. The tailor shop is limiting work to new uniform sowing and nametapes. Optical is open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. As always we appreciate your service and look forward to serving you as we all get through this difficult time together. We will resume Advisory Board meetings once this is all past us. Thank you for all you do. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to the store.