In the Community - VA Healthcare-VISN 4
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VA Healthcare-VISN 4


In the Community

Heroes at Heinz

September 11, 2018

Two veterans posing for a photo with a Steelers player.

Several Veterans from the Pittsburgh, Altoona, Butler, Coatesville, and Erie VA Medical Centers were honored at the annual Heroes at Heinz Field event hosted by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday, September 11. During the event, Veterans met with players from the Steelers and had the opportunity to run through practice drills.

View more photos and a video from the event on*

Suicide Prevention Walk

September 10, 2018

A group of employees walking outside along a sidewalk.

The annual Suicide Prevention Walk was held at Erie VA Medical Center in recognition of Suicide Prevention Month. Following a brief candlelight ceremony, employees and guests walked around the campus to remember those lost by suicide and to raise awareness about suicide prevention. The event was held by the local suicide prevention coordinators who are trying to end suicide among Veterans by providing the services, programs, and information our Veterans and their families need.

Visit the Erie VA website for more information about the services provided by Erie's Behavioral Health team.

Mobile Veterans Program

July 12, 2018

A group of Veterans playing Bingo.

The Coatesville VAMC Mobile Veterans Program brings VA professionals to five local Veteran Service Organization sites within the community and offers structured activities and health care oversight to Veterans. The Mobile Veterans Program reduces distance barriers, improves access to care, provides support to family caregivers and empowers Veterans to remain independent and home-based for as long as possible.

To learn more about the Mobile Veterans Program, visit the Coatesville VA website.

VA, UPS Combine to Beautify Neighborhood

July 11, 2018

VA and UPS employees planting flowers and spreading mulch.

VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and UPS combined forces to beautify homes along Meade Street in Point Breeze and Hochberg Road in Penn Hills on May 24.

Veterans in VA Pittsburgh's Compensated Work Therapy & Transitional Residence (CWT/TR) program joined 30 UPS workers to plant flowers, spread mulch, mow grass, trim hedges, paint fences and much more.

Read more about the event and view photos.

Heroes at Heinz Field

September 12, 2017

The scoreboard with the words Heroes at Heinz Field.

Each September for the last ten years, VISN 4 and VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System co-host a Welcome Home event for Post-9/11 Veterans along with the Pittsburgh Steelers. On September 12, several Steelers players welcomed home military Veterans, and the group enjoyed catching, kicking and tossing footballs on the turf at Heinz Field.

Earth Day

April 21, 2017

Employees planting a tree on campus.

Employees from Lebanon VA Medical Center celebrated Earth Day this year by planting trees throughout the campus. Did you know: more than 225 trees were planted on the Lebanon VA Medical Center campus in the month of April!

Earth Day history: It may be hard to imagine that before 1970, there were no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect our environment. In spring 1970, millions of Americans demonstrated in different U.S. cities to force this issue onto the national agenda. Later in December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was formed.

Veteran Volunteer Celebrates 100th Birthday

April 11, 2017

Vincent Savarino.

Wilkes-Barre VAMC volunteer Vince Savarino recently celebrated his 100th Birthday! Vince is the oldest active volunteer at the medical center, serving as an Ambassador at the Information Desk and a major organizer of the Popcorn Committee which raises funds to support patient needs.

He's been a volunteer for more than 31 years and to date has served more than 13,000 hours. He insists that he will continue to volunteer his help to other Veterans as long as he is able.

Read more about Vince's volunteer experience at Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center and check out this story from WBRE on his birthday celebration.

Bluebird Society of Pennsylvania

April 5, 2017

Two men assembling a bird house.

Lebanon VA Medical Center worked with the Bluebird Society of Pennsylvania (BSP) to install a network of BSP-donated Bluebird boxes (called a Bluebird Trail) around the campus in time for the upcoming breeding season. The campus was deemed an ideal habitat for Eastern Bluebirds, and the Lebanon VA is proud to partner with the BSP on this conservation project.

In the future, Veterans receiving care at the Lebanon VA Medical Center will have an opportunity to be part of this project by monitoring the boxes for activity and to collect data for the BSP. Thanks to the grounds crew at the medical center and the BSP representatives for allowing this project to take flight!

Hometown Heroes Bowling Tournament

January 24, 2017

A Veteran getting ready to roll a ball at a bowling alley.

Local bowling enthusiasts teamed up to raise funds for the Erie VA Medical Center's Veterans Justice Program during the Hometown Heroes Bowling Tournament. The annual event is sponsored by the UE Local 506 Sports Committee, and all money raised will be used to purchase supportive recovery materials and motivational items that promote embracing a sober and emotionally strong lifestyle.

The Veterans Justice Program supports Veterans from all war eras that have lost their way. These Veterans are often homeless and hopeless, having turned to drugs or alcohol to mask their hurt. With programs like Veterans Treatment Court, Jail Outreach and Law Enforcement training, the Veterans Justice Program advocates for non-violent Veterans to get a second chance to find the honor again under which they served.

Heroes at Heinz Field

September 14, 2015

A Veteran poses for a photo with a Steelers player.

This past fall during the 8th annual Heroes at Heinz Field event, approximately 70 Veterans from seven VISN 4 facilities got to catch, kick and throw footballs with the help of current Steelers players. This unique partnership between the Steelers and VA Healthcare - VISN 4 allows both organizations to go beyond their normal function and truly provide attendees with a "hero's welcome."

To see more photos of the event, check out the online photo album.

Serving Homeless Veterans in Urban Areas

Philadelphia among VA facilities participating in 25 Cities Initiative

A group of VA volunteers holding a handmade cardboard sign that reads Philly Vets Home has housed 1,250 Veterans since 2013.

Since unveiling a comprehensive plan to end homelessness among Veterans, VA has developed a number of initiatives to combat Veteran homelessness, and has made significant progress towards reaching that goal.

One such initiative is called the "25 Cities Initiative." Its objective is to help 25 communities with high concentrations of homeless Veterans throughout the Nation to intensify and integrate their local efforts to end Veteran homelessness. These 25 cities account for more than 40 percent of all homeless Veterans. Philadelphia is one of those cities, the only one within VISN 4.

The initiative, begun in 2014, is a joint effort by VA; the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH); and local governments, housing authorities, and community providers. All these groups work closely together to identify all homeless Veterans in their communities and identify permanent housing solutions for them.

"During a review, we identified communities where we had made a substantial funding investment and were not making sufficient progress," said Vince Kane, Lebanon VA Medical Center's associate director, and the former director of VA's National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans. "I asked HUD, 'Why don't we bring community providers and VA providers together in those areas to leverage resources and better target housing and services to Veterans who need them?'"

The Philadelphia VA Medical Center had begun participating in a "boot camp" process, part of the nationwide "100,000 homes" campaign, in 2013.

A group of VA volunteers rally in a downtown public square.

"We took that effort and refocused it into the 25 Cities initiative," explained Casey McCollum, the medical center's acting homeless coordinator. The group meets regularly to set 100-day goals for reducing homelessness, coordinate efforts, and to monitor progress.

"The initiative has proven to be highly effective," said Kane. "It's taken the boot camp concept to the next level. VA was the leader in this – we developed it, we worked with it, and we rolled it out. Cities like Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City are now within reach of ending Veteran homeless."

"We're very excited by the work we are doing, and it is evident in our progress that we will reach our goals," concluded McCollum. "We would never have done it without our partners, however. It's a demonstration of the power of what people working together can really accomplish."

Adventure on the River

Co-hosted by Three Rivers Rowing Association and Dynamic Paddlers
June 8, 2014

A Veteran sitting in a kayak on the river receives instructions on how to paddle.

Two VISN 4 Veterans recently had the opportunity to learn how to row and paddle, thanks to the Three Rivers Rowing Association and Dynamic Paddlers. Adventure on the River offered disabled Veterans an opportunity to learn rowing (both sculling and sweep rowing), kayaking, and dragon boating.

The free event was held in Pittsburgh on June 8. All Veterans with physical, visual, and intellectual disabilities were invited, and the co-hosts provided equipment and coaching.

Adaptive sports provide great opportunities for disabled Veterans to get out and get fit. Disabled Veterans enrolled in VA health care who have shown a commitment to consistent exercise or have consistently participated in adaptive sports may be eligible to receive specialized adaptive sports equipment free from VA.

Interested Veterans should contact Doug Hilliard, VISN 4 Prosthetics Manager, at 724-477-5079.

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