Sacramento County health facilities have faced devastating cuts since 2008 losing 4 out of six health facilities and currently only operating one full time. After the Veterans Alliance was notified that potentially veteran-eligible members were receiving care in County facilities, we received support from Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli to initiate a team consisting of representatives from the County Medically Indigent Services Program and the Sacramento Veterans Medical Center at Mather. This has led to expedited transfer of care of members seen in County facilities once deemed eligible for VA care, thus relieving an overburdened indigent program to cope with those without alternative venues for health care.
Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli has also charged the County Veterans Service Office to work with the Veterans Alliance as part of a County task force to track the turnaround for resolution of veterans claims processing.
Veterans make up almost a quarter of the homeless population in the United States. Government estimates indicate the number nationally to be 154,000, the majority of whom have Vietnam service connection. California’s estimated homeless veteran population is 49,000. It is a national tragedy that despite serving in harm’s way in defense of our freedoms, they are eligible for but not connected to service connected benefits. With rising unemployment and overseas operations winding down, identifying and connecting those eligible for benefits becomes more critical. The Veterans Alliance partnership with the Willow Clinic, a UC Davis student-run clinic for the homeless, assures those identified with military service history will be connected to any earned benefits
There are over 600,000 veterans nationwide potentially eligible for benefits but not yet accessed in the system. Despite an estimated 60,000 number of veterans residing within California, little more than 25% or 16,000 are accounted for by the California Department of Veterans Affairs database as of April 2010.
Because up to 50% of veterans receive some component of their health care in nonveteran health plan settings, reaching out to private health plans may provide a pathway to discover some of our veterans and connect them to earned benefits. This becomes critical when veterans need health information from their nonveteran providers in order to qualify for disability benefits from the Veterans Administration and the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Senator Jeff Denham, Chairman of the California Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has championed the efforts of the Veterans Alliance to ensure our health plan veterans are connected to those entities.
Many of our veterans return home with the enduring physical and mental conditions brought on by their service in the field of battle. Each war or conflict has brought unique challenges to the veterans of that era from the post traumatic stress disorders that have accompanied our veterans of every era to the unique injuries linked to improvised explosive devices used by insurgents in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Veterans Alliance is leading an initiative to develop a Wellness and Resilence Center located at the Mather VA Hospital to assist returning veterans connect to health services based on their unique needs.
Vietnam service-connected illnesses tied to Agent Orange exposure:
- AL amyloidosis
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
- B cell Leukemias
- Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
- Hodgkins Disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
- Parkinsons Disease
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Porphyria Cutanea tarda
- Prostate Cancer
- Lung, Larynx, Trachea, Bronchus Cancer
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas