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

 

In the Community

Gone Fishing!

November 1, 2019

A Veteran holding up a striped bass.

A group of Coatesville VAMC Veterans soaked in the sun and salt air, talked, laughed and most importantly reeled in 15 striped bass. They were treated to an afternoon of fishing thanks to a donation organized by a David’s Drive 831, a local nonprofit charity.

Events like this serve as recreational therapy for hospitalized veterans recovering from PTSD or living in the Community Living Care center.

DRBA Employees Give Back

October 25, 2019

Mr. Thomas Cook presents a donation to Vincent Kane, director of Wilmington VA Medical Center.

Mr. Thomas Cook, the Executive Director of the Delaware River & Bay Authority (DRBA) is pictured presenting a donation of various snacks, DART passes, books and toiletries to the Wilmington VA Medical Center. The items were donated by DRBA employees for the use of our Veterans. Such donations are always welcome and are greatly appreciated by the Veterans we serve and to whom we owe so much. Thank you to all DRBA employees and Mr. Cook for this effort!

Donated Bikes Go to Coatesville Families

October 25, 2019

Members of David's Drive prepare to distribute bicycles to families.

Families turned up at the City of Coatesville Police Department to accept and choose from a selection of over 40 bicycles donated to the Coatesville community to include local veterans. David's Drive 831 lead the effort and teamed up with the Coatesville VA Medical Center to be there when the shipment, coordinated through Hands in Service, arrived and were there to greet more than 10 families.

Jennifer Lilly, Chief of Voluntary Services Coatesville VA Medical Center, said, "It's events like this that bring a moment of joy into Veterans and their families lives and reminds them we are that we are here working to support them each and every day."

The remaining bikes were handed over to social workers and delivered to previously identified families who couldn’t be at the event.

Stand Down

September 20, 2019

A female Veteran talks with VA staff at the stand down event.

It was a great day helping our Veterans receive services at the Veteran Stand Down.

The Wilmington VA Medical Center provided flu shots, VA enrollment assistance, Veteran Court services, Outreach and many other services.

The event was held at Shutte Park in Dover, Delaware.

Lehigh Valley Legion Baseball

September 18, 2019

Members of Lehigh Valley Legion Baseball present a check to Lebanon VA Medical Center.

Lehigh Valley Legion Baseball League recently made a donation to the Lebanon VA Medical Center that will be used to support their National Veterans Golden Age Games team "The Keystone Patriots."

The 2020 National Veterans Golden Age Games will be held in Madison, Wisconsin.

Heroes at Heinz Field

September 10, 2019

Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva speaks with a Vetaran on the field during the event.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Mehling
© Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers welcomed home Post 9/11 Veterans by hosting them on their turf during the Heroes at Heinz Field event. Military Veterans from Altoona, Butler, Erie, Wilkes-Barre and the Pittsburgh regions brought their best game and a family member or friend to toss, catch and run footballs with current players.

Many thanks go to the Steelers for showing their gratitude to Veterans service and sacrifice and to the VA Transition Care Management team members throughout the state who made this possible.

View more photos and a video from the event on steelers.com.*

Welcome America Celebration

July 5, 2019

Student volunteers prepare to distribute boxes full of hoagies.

Many thanks to Wawa and USO for donating hoagies for the Welcome America celebration on July 5 in Philadelphia. The two organizations paired up and donated hoagies to the Medical Center, the Snyder House, and the Veterans Multi-Service Center.

At the medical center, hoagies were distributed to various clinics and programs including Home-Based Primary Care and the Community Living Center. VA volunteers from the summer youth program were excited and busy delivering the hoagies.

Rolling Thunder Cookout

June 13, 2019

Motorcycles are lined up and ready to roll at Coatesville VA Medical Center.

Rolling Thunder - Chapter 1 Pennsylvania recently hosted Veterans for their annual event and cookout held at the Coatesville VA Medical Center. Thirty Veterans participated in the police escort and over 150 Veterans joined for the cookout. It was a beautiful day filled with appreciation to our Veterans!

Gone Fishing!

June 12, 2019

Veterans enjoy fishing from a pier.

Veterans with Lebanon VA Medical Center went fishing in Schaefferstown at the Heidelberg Sportsmen's Association. The Veterans also had a picnic dinner. Events like these are provided to Veterans to improve leisure functioning and independence for Veterans who are patients here as well as those living in the community. This event was made possible through the Voluntary Service Program, volunteers and donations.

Recreation Therapy Equestrian Program

April 17, 2019

A Veteran in a wheelchair petting a horse.

Veterans from the H.J. Heinz III community living center and Veterans recovery center at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System traveled to Slippery Rock University to take part in a recreation therapy equestrian program. Trained instructors at Storm Harbor Equestrian Center assisted Veterans in proper grooming techniques, explained horsemanship basics, and guided the Veterans in walking and trotting on the horses both indoors as well as outdoors.

Chick-Fil-A Cookies

January 2, 2019

The Chick-Fil-A cow gives a cookie to a Veteran in a wheelchair.

The Cow from Chick-Fil-A visited Coatesville VA Medical Center and distributed cookies to Veterans in the outpatient clinics. His visit was a big hit with the Veterans and staff alike!

The Downington Chick-Fil-A ran a campaign for 2 weeks in December that asked their customers to donate a cookie to the Veterans at the Coatesville VAMC. The community generously donated over 1100 cookies!

Toys for Tots

December 7, 2018

Veterans collect toys for the Toys for Tots program.

This is the 3rd year the Veterans at the Butler VA Health Care System Community Living Center collected toys to donate to the annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

Veterans, employees, and family members donated over $2,000 in toys this year!

The event is organized by Chuck Swidzinski at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

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 steelers.com.*

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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