VA Maryland Health Care System
Serving Those Who Served
Taking care of an elderly or sick family member can be an extremely difficult and stressful time for family caregivers. However, at the Fort Howard VA Outpatient Clinic Open House & Information Fair, one daughter of a Veteran learned she did not have to do it alone. Before leaving the Open House, she expressed her gratitude to the Community Outreach Coordinator Margaret Hornberger, who says, "She told us she gained valuable information for both her father and her brother who served in the military, and that she will spread the word to other Veterans she knows." She was just one of 37 Veterans and Veteran family members who learned about access to VA Maryland Health Care System resources, assistance and information, just by attending the Fort Howard VA Outpatient Clinic Open House & Information Fair.
The Fort Howard VA Outpatient Clinic Open House & Information Fair was one of the many outreach events scheduled to take place this year in an effort to provide Veterans and their family members with opportunities to learn about VA health care eligibility, benefits, programs, and services. At the Open Houses, Veterans are also able take tours and get a glimpse of some of the most innovative medical technology offered at VA Maryland Health Care System medical centers and outpatient clinics. The VA Maryland Health Care System's Office of Public & Community Relations is implementing several campaigns for fiscal year 2013, including direct mail, paid advertisement, public service announcements and open houses in an attempt to reach even more Veterans.
The Program Manager for Public Relations & Community Outreach, Kenya Griffin, encourages involvement from the community, saying, "We need help from Veteran family members, friends and the community to assist us in our efforts to reach Veterans. Help us spread the word about our Open Houses & Information Fairs and VA Maryland health care services. If you know a Veteran who may not be receiving VA health benefits, send that Veteran to the VA Maryland Health Care System."
Griffin's idea of "spreading the word" is reinforced by the VA Maryland Health Care System's "Tell-A-Vet" campaign, which encourages family members, neighbors and friends of Veterans to "Tell-A-Vet" to apply for health care with the VA Maryland Health Care System. Learn more about "Tell-A-Vet" here: http://www.maryland.va.gov/about/tell-a-vet.asp.
Aimee, Community Outreach specialist, reported another Veteran's family member mentioning to her that, "He would have never signed up for benefits, if he had not come to the open house." The VA Maryland Health Care System staff understands that Veterans may have questions while completing the health benefits application, which is why they encourage Veterans attendance at Open House & Information Fairs. At these events, Veterans will receive application assistance and answers to any questions or concerns free of charge. The last three Open House & Information Fairs held at the Fort Howard VA Outpatient Clinic, the Baltimore VA Medical Center and the Cambridge VA Outpatient Clinic brought out over 90 Veterans and Veteran family members to the clinics. This means even more Veterans may now have access to the most cutting-edge and state-of-the-art health care services available.
VA Open House & Information Fairs also give Veterans a chance to interact with other Veterans and VA volunteers who are dedicated to serving Veterans. At the Baltimore VA Medical Center Open House and Information Fair, VA volunteers acted as personal escorts to Veterans and Veteran family members attending the fair. According to Griffin, "The Veteran volunteer escorts added a nice personal touch to the fair!"
The goal to raise Veteran enrollment in the VA Maryland Health Care System, stems from a great desire to provide Veterans with the high quality medical care worthy of someone who sacrificed to protect the United States of America. The Office of Public & Community Relations continues to make strong efforts in raising Veteran awareness about applying for health benefits through numerous campaigns, seminars, information fairs, expos and promotional activities. All Open House & Information Fairs are listed on the VA Maryland Health Care System Facebook and Twitter sites and the health care system's website calendar. Major events are sometimes advertised in local newspapers and on local radio stations. The next VA Open House & Information Fair is scheduled for Saturday, September 14, 2013, anytime between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Fort Meade VA Outpatient Clinic 2479 5th Street, Fort Meade, Maryland 20755.
The VA Maryland Health Care System strongly encourages family members and friends of Veterans to Tell-A-Vet to attend the events or apply for VA health care benefits by using one of these three methods:
- Online: complete VA Form 10-10EZ – Application for Health Benefits, available at www.maryland.va.gov - click on "Become a Patient."
- By telephone: call our toll-free number at 1-800-949-1003, ext. 6071
- In person: at any VA medical center or outpatient clinic throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System. Find your nearest center here: http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isflash=1
Veterans interested in learning more about VA health benefits eligibility can visit the VA Maryland Health Care System website at http://www.maryland.va.gov/patients/eligibility.asp. If you are interested in learning more about VA Maryland Health Care System outreach events contact Margaret Hornberger, Community Outreach Coordinator, at Margaret.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-949-1003, ext 6071.