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OCE Partnerships and COVID-19

Even during the pandemic, Veteran Community Partnerships go above and beyond for Veterans

The coronavirus pandemic has not stopped the Hampton Roads Veteran Community Partnership (VCP) from safely honoring and supporting Veterans in creative, thoughtful ways.

The Hampton Roads VCP, which includes the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Hampton VA Medical Center and local community partners, hosted pinning ceremonies honoring and recognizing Veterans for their service. They also held a birthday concert for a Veteran Navy SEAL and coordinated donations for Veterans experiencing homelessness in the area.

The Hampton Roads VCP has hosted events that aim to educate and support Veterans, community members, and health care professionals on topics relevant to Veterans’ well-being since 2008. Recently, representatives from this Virginia VCP compiled and distributed an inspirational photo collage including images of the recent physically distanced and safe events they organized for Veterans.

“Since COVID-19 we’ve been having such a wonderful time serving the community, and our community partners have been doing a lot of things serving the community,” said Ms. Yvonne Bailey, a social worker at the Hampton VA Medical Center who works on the VCP. “I thought it would be helpful to put it in a collage so we could showcase what we’re doing, so other people could see it and get interested in [doing the same].” Members of the VCP distributed the collage to community partners in their area.

VCPs are coalitions that bring community entities together to foster Veterans’ access to care and supportive services in the community and at VA medical centers. Any one VCP in the United States—there are 41 as of December 2019—is part of the national VCP initiative, a joint project of the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA’s) Offices of Community Engagement (OCE), Geriatrics and Extended Care, Rural Health, and Caregiver Support.

Sharing the good news about what the VCP is able to do during COVID-19 started as a way to share best practices, said Mary Dorss, community liaison for Freda H. Gordon Hospice & Palliative Care, one of the health care agencies working as part of this VCP.

“We wanted to encourage each other and give each other ideas for things we could be doing during the pandemic when a lot of our traditional events were just not feasible,” Ms. Dorss explained.

These events are meaningful for Veterans during this challenging time. During the birthday party for the former Navy SEAL, Mrs. Dorss herself played patriotic songs on the violin. The Veteran was able to connect with other Veterans from a distance, fulfilling the need for social connectedness during a time of physical distancing.

“You could just see him light up from all we were able to do, even from a distance,” said Mrs. Dorss.

For pinning ceremonies, staff members present a red rose instead of a pin to eliminate the need for close face-to-face contact during the pinning. Another event included in the photo collage is the STOP Inc. (Supporting Transformational Opportunities for People) activity where “housewarming gift” donations were collected for Veterans living in transitional housing. Masks and “air hugs” helped keep participants safe.

Many of those served by the Hampton Roads VCP are Veterans in hospice or palliative care settings, explained Ms. Dorss. The need for social connection during COVID-19 is particularly great for this population. 

“The population we serve are already so very prone to isolation, depression, not feeling like they’re a part of the community anymore,” Ms. Dorss said. “We felt it was particularly important to focus on our Veterans who are experiencing health issues or in care facilities to make sure that they know they’re not forgotten.”

“It also helps us as individuals to give back,” added Ms. Bailey. “When you start to do [things] for others, it helps to take the stress, feeling of loneliness off us, to help us feel better about what’s going on around us.”

For more information on VCPs and how OCE coordinates partnerships across VHA, please visit

External Link Disclaimer: This page contains links that will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.

Posted September 17, 2020