Office of Community Engagement
OCE Partnership Impact
VHA partnerships support the social determinants of health that Veterans need during times of crisis
In light of the risks to public health brought on by the global novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic (read the Department of Veterans Affairs [VA’s] response to the ongoing situation here), the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Community Engagement (OCE) is raising awareness of nongovernmental agencies that are helping Veterans stay safe and healthy during this public health crisis.
One such agency is MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. MAZON, with which VHA has partnered for years, is a national advocacy organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths in the United States and Israel. The organization advocates for food security among Veterans, as well as other groups. MAZON also leads a national effort to eliminate barriers to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) access for currently serving military families. In light of current events, MAZON is coordinating with grantee partners and other colleagues across the country, gathering the latest information, and advocating at the federal and state level for swift and effective action to expand access to food assistance for those affected. You can read more about MAZON’s current advocacy work here.
Another agency with which VHA has partnered for years, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), is providing coordination, training, technical assistance, and support on nutrition and anti-poverty issues. This support is reaching FRAC’s nationwide network of advocates, service providers, food banks, program administrators and participants, and policymakers. Like MAZON, FRAC is working on ways to eliminate barriers to SNAP access and to support Veterans and other vulnerable populations. You can read more about FRAC’s current advocacy work here.
OCE is VHA’s trusted resource and catalyst for growth of public-private partnerships throughout the administration. As such, the office supports many partnerships that benefit Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors, such as MAZON and FRAC. OCE is especially focused on partnerships that support Veterans’ positive social determinants of health (SDOH—the conditions in the environments in which Veterans live, work, and age).
“When Veterans have access to positive SDOH, such as food security, housing, and social support, they have better health outcomes,” said Dr. Tracy L. Weisteich, OCE’s acting director. “SDOH are critical for Veterans’ wellness during a crisis such as COVID-19, and VHA, MAZON, and FRAC know that Veterans’ food security needs to be protected now more than ever.”
OCE supports the development of many partnerships that support Veterans’ SDOH. To read more about these collaborations, please visit: https://www.va.gov/HEALTHPARTNERSHIPS/updates.asp.
Posted March 24, 2020