Hours after Hurricane Ida left her catastrophic mark on Southern Louisiana; the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport and Shreveport Vet Center coordinated efforts. Widespread damage and continuous flooding made the potential for hurricane shelters in Northwest Louisiana a reality.
Shreveport Vet Center wheels up after the storm: Shreveport VA finds landing zone with Shreveport Vet Center
The state of Louisiana identified multiple shelters between Shreveport and Monroe. At times the occupancy populations at various sites exceeded expectations for displaced Louisianians.
The Shreveport Vet Center supported a large city shelter that housed over 900 evacuees. The Vet Center fired up its Mobile Vet Center and provided VA hospital employees a space to assist Veterans with health care needs, supportive counseling, and first-time VA enrollment for some.
A VA face sometimes is all that’s needed
“It hurts my heart to see all these people without a home,” said Chocka Sullivan, Program Director, Health Care for Homeless Veterans program. “But I am proud of the role we played to help the Veterans so far away from home. You could see some were scared or worried, but knowing the VA was here and that we had their back gave some confidence—I think.”
Among the occupants, more than 35 Veterans made the shelter a temporary home. The large majority are grateful for a friendly VA face and assistance with regular medications.
“Having the VA here is beautiful,” said New Orleans native Larry Henry and U.S. Army Veteran. “The Vet Center vehicle and seeing the VA here is good. I was able to take care of medicine. It’s excellent.”
Not just another day at the office
“Times like these require us to modify our normal work routines,” stressed Garett Juneau, Veterans Outreach Program Specialist, Shreveport Vet Center. “The Vet Center offices go mobile to help Veterans who left their homes. We provide readjustment counseling if needed and also provide resource listings such as FEMA, the Red Cross, or the Salvation Army.”
“Thank goodness the Vet Center drove on site. Their outside workspace, the mobile van, made a difference and made conversations easier,” smiled Sullivan. “Our staff worked hard to make sure our Veterans received the best care.”
Ready with an answer
“You never know what assistance a Veteran may need,” said Juneau. “We have to know a little about all parts of the VA. When we first parked the Mobile Vet Center, one Veteran needed information concerning a VA claim. I was able to get him connected with a Parish Service Officer. The gratitude I received meant everything.”
As the power slowly ripples back into homes in southern parts of the state, shelters remain open because many are left without a home to provide energy. The Shreveport Vet Center and caring employees at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center stand prepared to provide support wherever needed.