Veterans Occupy VA Headquarters Through Brutal Storm
As Hurricane Sandy, an unprecedented super-storm, slammed into the East Coast of the U.S. this week, more than 7,400 National Guard troops were mobilized to assist with recovery and security efforts in eleven states. Many are battle-hardened Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The welcome sight of troops provides overwhelmed city, county, and state agencies additional search and rescue efforts, hazardous materials response teams, delivering essential supplies, and clearing blocked roadways.
As the enormous storm approached the heavily populated areas, VA took action. In one case, VA’s New York Harbor Healthcare System on the lower east side of Manhattan emptied its beds and transferred patients to other facilities. Veterans wanting to know which facilities are open may call 800-507-4571 for information. Other emergency information from VA, including email updates and websites for local VA facilities, are located on VA’s emergency information page.
Times of national disaster often cause unwanted stress and anxiety for civilians and veterans. For Hurricane Sandy, more than 50 million Americans are now impacted by the devastation caused by wind, rain, fire, and flooding. VA’s National Center for PTSD published a superb disaster “toolkit” including fact sheets and other useful resources for disaster survivors and the general public. Their valuable information for all Americans is based on decades of experience with veterans, showing why VA is truly valuable for everyone.
A final note related to VA and Hurricane Sandy: Between 15 and 20 veterans remain camped in front of VA. Their vigil began on October 4. Members of “Occupy VA,” endured the wind gusts of more than 50 miles per hour and torrential rains by anchoringd themselves to the front door of the VA headquarters building at 810 Vermont Avenue, in Northwest Washington, DC. The peaceful protestors, many of whom are veterans, seek to bring national attention to concerns about the 18 veteran suicides per day, homelessness, and unemployment. Before the hurricane struck, two veterans saw Secretary Shinseki slip out VA’s side exit on H Street to avoid contact with the veterans.
Updated (6:18 PM Oct 31, 2012): President Obama sends active duty troops to New York City to assist in relief efforts.