Health focus of VA outreach | Local

NEW HAVEN – It was difficult to miss the big, bold words on flyers advertising Sunday’s veterans outreach program in New Haven – “get your veteran ID card.”

That promise wasn’t organizer Joe Carrillo’s priority, however.

Health care was.

Carrillo works for the Department of Veterans Affairs Northern Indiana Health Care System and said some veterans would dismiss an event about VA health care because they don’t know they’re qualified for it.

He hoped to clear up such misconceptions among those seeking the photo ID card, which veterans can use to get discounts at many restaurants, hotels, stores and other businesses. Veterans can apply for the card themselves, but Carrillo said the digital submission requirements can be obstacles for those who aren’t as computer savvy.

The four-hour outreach program at VFWPost 2457 was “extremely fruitful,” Carrillo said. He spoke with about a dozen people by the final hour, he said, adding a few more were waiting to be helped. In comparison, he said, a health care event typically attracts one or two people.

Flu shots and blood pressure screenings were offered Sunday, and VFW service officers were available to help with VA claims.

Shortly after 1 p.m., two veterans who served in the 1960s entered the VFW.

“This where we sign up for the card?” one asked.

Dick Lineberry, post commander, invited them to sit as Carrillo finished helping another man.

“I’d say it was a success,” Lineberry said of the event.

Although Carrillo spoke with veterans inside the VFW, he said he needs only a parking lot to conduct outreach programs because the agency now has a mobile unit. Carrillo called it a “one-stop shop” complete with a clinic and exam room. The vehicle was parked outside along Dawkins Road, but an issue with the generator brought the event inside, Carrillo said.

Once cleared by the coronavirus pandemic, Carrillo’s calendar is filling up with outreach programs including in Gas City and Huntington. Anyone interested in hosting one should contact him at [email protected] or 800-360-8387, ext. 71998.

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