A small group of veterans from across Colorado were able to ask questions of VA Secretary Denis McDonough during a roundtable event at American Legion Post 209 in Colorado Springs on Dec. 15.
The event was held in conjunction with the VA’s PACT Act Week of Action, a series of 90-plus town halls in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia aimed at helping veterans and their families get more details on the PACT Act. The Post 209 event took place a few hours before McDonough made brief remarks during a visit to PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom VA Clinic in Colorado Springs.
“I think it’s important (to have these events) because a lot of our veterans don’t know that this comprehensive legislation was passed,” said Terri Clinton, public affairs officer for VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System and past commander of the Department of Colorado. “I think if you’re enrolled in VA, you’re going to get an initial screening, but if you’re not enrolled in VA, that’s where we need our veterans to know that we’re here ready and available to assist with their claims adjudication, their enrollment and the initial screening.
“The veterans service organizations are community partners, so we rely on them to help us get the word out. That’s why this event at the American Legion post was so important.”
Past department commander Jay Bowen served as emcee for the event at Post 209, while former national Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission chairman Ralph Bozella served as moderator.
Clinton said one of the biggest myths that needs to be dispelled about the PACT Act is the legislation’s impact on veterans’ current benefits.
“If anything, most of our veterans who are enrolling (for PACT Act benefits) are actually receiving an increase in their service connected (disability) percentage. So it really behooves veterans to at least come in and do that initial screening. That’s our message at VA: please apply for your PACT Act benefits now,” Clinton said.
VA encourages all eligible veterans and survivors to apply for their earned PACT Act-related health care and benefits now. Veterans and survivors can apply or learn more about the PACT Act by visiting VA.gov/PACT or by calling 1-800-MYVA411.