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Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins Chairs Veterans Meeting In Southwest Virginia 

(Abingdon) Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins convened a meeting of the Southwest Virginia Veterans Coalition (SWVVC) on August 16 at the Washington County Government Center in Abingdon.  The purpose of this meeting, which is part of a regular series, was to address issues affecting the quality of life for military veterans living in Southwest Virginia.

The Coalition was formed by Secretary Hopkins and regional leaders to promote collaboration and discussion regarding issues and topics important to veterans throughout the Southwestern cities and counties of the Commonwealth.  The SWVVC is composed of representatives from a broad spectrum of local, state, and federal government agencies, elected officials, veterans service organizations and nonprofits.

“These meetings give all of us the opportunity to hear directly from leaders in Southwest Virginia regarding their unique and specific needs and bring together stakeholders who could contribute resources to the discussions,” said Secretary Hopkins.

Secretary Hopkins was joined at the meeting by Virginia Deputy Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Kathleen Jabs; Mr. Thomas Herthel, Deputy Commissioner, and Ms. Donna Williams, Benefits Director, of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS); Ms. Pam Kestner of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development; representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW); the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA); and other representatives of SWVA businesses and organizations.

Mr. Dean B. Borsos, Director of the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center in Mountain Home, Tennessee, and Mr. Kenneth M. Allensworth, Interim Director of the Beckley VA Medical Center in Beckley, West Virginia provided an overview of VA medical care for veterans in Southwest Virginia.  Ms. Rebecca Stackhouse, Director of the Salem VA Medical Center in Salem, Virginia, briefed the group on the telehealth program at the Salem VAMC.

Ms. Leanna Craig, Western Regional Director of the DVS Virginia Veterans and Family Support (VVFS) Program, spoke about the initiatives under development as part of the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicides among Service Members, Veterans and Their Families.  Mr. Craig McCarthy, DVS Benefits Western Regional Director, presented an overview of the services available to veterans and their families at the local DVS offices throughout Southwestern Virginia.

Secretary Hopkins noted that he was pleased with the interest in the topics discussed and the participation in the Coalition meeting.  “It is very important that we reach out to all veterans wherever they live throughout our Commonwealth,” Secretary Hopkins said. “We want to make all veterans and their families aware of our ongoing efforts to offer them the highest quality of life and help them take advantage of the benefits they earned through their service to our Nation. Meetings such as this one are an integral part of these efforts and of our mission to make Virginia the most military and veteran-friendly state in America.”

 About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services

The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia.  DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans.  Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates two long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It also oversees the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.