Next week is the official start of summer and that means, in certain parts of the country, it’s hurricane season. To prepare and protect you and your loved ones in advance of a hurricane, or after a disaster, use the VA resources in this blog post to find help and support.
Remember: If you have a life-threatening medical issue, contact 911 immediately. If you have health concerns and it’s not an emergency, contact your local VA for 24/7 nurse advice and triage if you have other health concerns and can’t go to the nearest VA clinic.
If, after a disaster, you evacuated outside your local area and need care, you can go to any VA health care facility that is open to receive care. Contact your local VA to get updates on hospital and clinic operations, how to get prescription refills and to reschedule appointments, if necessary.
Make sure you have an electronic copy of your health record downloaded from My HealtheVet.
If you are a Veteran in crisis – or you’re concerned about one – free, confidential support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Veterans Crisis Line is available by phone, text or chat:
- Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.
- Send a text to 838255.
- Chat online.
- Support for deaf and hard of hearing: Call 1-800-799-4889.
VA may place mobile support vehicles in your area to offer easy access to our services. We may also stage public contact teams at local shelters or in disaster recovery centers.
These resources can help all who are eligible with the following:
- Identifying Veteran status.
- Evaluating available benefits (including medical, prescription and other benefits).
In this section, you’ll find other resources for Veterans, their families or their caregivers.
Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC): Call or text 1-855-829-6636. If you’re a woman Veteran or a woman Veteran’s family or caregiver, we provide information about VA services and resources. The call is free and you can call as often as you like, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. ET; Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. ET.
Homeless Veterans: 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838). Explore the website to learn about and share information on VA programs for Veterans who are homeless.
- Call or visit your local VA Medical Center if you are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.
- Call 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) for you and your family to access VA services.
VA Emergency Pharmacy program
In the event of a catastrophic event, VA may activate the Emergency Pharmacy program. It is important to check with your VA medical center to see if this program is available to support your medication needs for a specific emergency or disaster.
Through this program, Veterans with a VA ID card who need an emergency supply of medication can go to any open retail pharmacy. They must have a written prescription on a valid VA prescription form or active VA prescription bottle to receive at least a 10-day supply. The prescription bottle information must be from within the previous six months and show refills are available.
Controlled substances are not included in this program; they must be filled by VA.
If a VA patient is displaced, has lost their medication or no longer has a written prescription or bottle, they can contact the Heritage Health Customer Care Line at 1-866-265-0124, option 1. Hours of operation will vary depending on requirements.
VA-issued medical equipment
If you have a health condition that requires life-saving equipment, such as a ventilator, check with your VA health care provider to see if you are eligible for a generator.
See the link to make a plan for your pets.
FEMA also has a program to provide assistance for “medical purpose” generators. If you have been issued a CPAP to prevent respiratory failure and have multiple chronic conditions worsened by sleep apnea or when a BiPAP device is used as a non-invasive pressure ventilator, you may eligible to receive VA issued back-up batteries.
If you are on home oxygen, the home oxygen company should have an emergency plan in place. Check with them for requirements to receive backup tanks.
Many power companies have programs for individuals who have special medical equipment at home and are dependent on that electric-powered equipment to live.
While registering for this service does not guarantee you will not lose power, it can provide notifications before and after a major hurricane and can help with referrals that provide assistance.
Contact your local power company to learn more.
Health Resource Center Disaster Hotline
Nurses evacuate a patient from the Ralph H. Johnson VA medical center.
Veterans, their beneficiaries and caregivers may contact VA’s Health Resource Center Disaster Hotline at 1-800-507-4571 regarding VA health benefits, eligibility, billing and pharmacy-related inquiries during the storm or disaster period. (The Disaster Line is activated by a VA facility request. It may not be active at the time you call.)
If you lose power, use flashlights or other battery-operated light sources. Do not use candles.
Don’t forget to plan for your pets.
Visit www.ready.gov to learn about preparedness kits, family emergency plans and more.
Veterans can find additional assistance at the Disaster Assistance website: https://www.disasterassistance.gov/information/veterans.
Over the past few years, VA employees have evacuated hundreds of patients out of danger zones. Employees have provided fuel, food and oxygen to hospitals we had to keep open, despite extreme dangers. They were a major part of the federal government’s emergency response – setting up incident command centers. They sent doctors, nurses and engineers – plus mobile pharmacies, clinics and nutrition centers – into the hardest hit areas.
We are ready for 2021.