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VA adjusts to serve veterans amid COVID

IRON MOUNTAIN — On Veterans Day we honor those brave Americans who have served our nation in uniform so that we may enjoy the freedoms we cherish so much today.

Enjoying these freedoms might look different this year because of the pandemic, just as the way we provide quality health care looks different to the veterans we serve.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, we are working to provide our services to veterans through safer, more deliberate means. We have used technology already in place to meet the needs of the veteran through VA Video Connect, keeping the veteran in the comfort of their home and the provider in the safety of their clinic.

We are seeing those veterans who need face-to-face care in a safe environment using VetText; asking some to wait in their vehicles before coming into the facility. All veterans and staff within the facility are required to wear masks in all spaces, and socially distance during every visit.

We have offered convenient ways of being tested for the virus. There are drive-up clinics as well as receiving tests during regularly scheduled appointments. Because of this, we can provide the same quality, convenience, and safety to our veterans as our community partners.

We have used social media to engage veterans in considering their whole health during these trying times. Tai chi, yoga and meditation are some of the ways that our providers are reaching out via social media and providing ways of keeping oneself healthy, both physically and mentally, during the times when we are socially distanced.

The recent completion of our $12 million addition to the Community Living Center affords veterans a new, single occupancy room for their stay with us. We also made sure to provide more room for recreation and, once the restrictions of COVID-19 are lifted, visiting with family and friends while they are here.

This is the quality care we owe to so many Americans who have sacrificed so much in the defense of our country and our way of life. As we salute these veterans, we trace our very existence to President Abraham Lincoln’s devotion to veterans and his charge to care for those “who have borne the battle.”

On Veterans Day, and every day, the employees of the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center are privileged to serve and care for more than 20,000 men and women across the Upper Peninsula and in northeast Wisconsin who have served in the armed forces. We are grateful to all of you for your service.

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