NORTHFIELD, Vt., May 19 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held a Veterans Town Hall and Resource Fair on Saturday at Norwich University. Roughly 150 Vermonters attended the event which highlighted national, statewide and local resources for Vermont veterans and their families.
“I wanted to hold today’s veterans town meeting because now, more than ever, veterans deserve to know what’s going on in Washington. I also want to make sure all veterans and their families know what services and benefits they are entitled to,” Sanders said. “As a longtime member and former chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am honored to be able to work on behalf of Vermont’s 45,000 veterans and their families who have done so much in service to our country.”
Sanders led a panel discussion with Vermont representatives from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, The American Legion, Vermont Veterans Outreach Program and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sanders’ Veterans Town Hall and Resource Fair, which included more than 40 organizations, also featured discussion sessions on special topics, including education benefits, serving female veterans, toxic exposures, housing and more. Representatives from the VA also attended to help enroll Vermont’s veterans in VA health care.
“I am proud that in recent years, we have made some very good progress expanding veterans’ health care in Vermont,” Sanders said. “We now have an extensive Women's Health Program at the White River Junction VA Medical Center, tailored to the unique needs of female veterans. We have five Community Based Outpatient Clinics throughout the state that offer quality primary care and advanced telemedicine. And we have two Vet Centers that provide specialized mental health services for combat veterans.”
“There is much more to do,” Sanders said. “The good news is that Congress recently appropriated $2 billion for VA hospital maintenance and improvement projects, which should also free up funds to help fill the more than 30,000 VA staff vacancies. Both of these are critically important to make sure veterans in Vermont and across the country can access the care they need, when and where they need it.”
Sanders was joined by Matthew Shuman, who is a U.S. Army veteran and national legislative director for The American Legion.
“When we served in the armed forces it was our job to leave the military better than we found it and the same is true as veterans,” Shuman said. “We have to make sure we leave the benefits we’re entitled to better than we found them. And we need to make sure that the VA is not privatized, so that the specialized services they provide aren’t converted into an insurance program because we know that just doesn’t work.”
Organizations attending Sanders’ Veterans Town Hall and Resource Fair included: AARP Vermont, Citizen Soldier for Life, Community College of Vermont (CCV), Community of Vermont Elders (COVE), David Lynch Foundation, Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, Farmer Veteran Coalition of Vermont, Fowler’s R&R Ranch, Integrative Acupuncture, Let’s Grow Kids, Mobile Vet Center, Norwich University, Senior Solutions, South Burlington Vet Center, Support and Services at Home (SASH), Supportive Services for Veteran Families (UVM & Easter Seals), The American Legion, The Dodge House, The Veterans’ Place, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor – Veteran Employment Training Service, U.S. Small Business Administration, Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports, Vermont Department of Labor, Vermont Federal Executive Association, Vermont Foodbank, Vermont National Guard Family Assistance Center, Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, Vermont Veterans’ Home, Vermont Veterans Legal Assistance Project, Vermont Veterans Outreach Program, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans Town Hall, Vietnam Veterans of America, Warrior Connection, Wheel Pad, White River Junction Vet Center, Wild Roots Farm and the Wounded Warrior Project.
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