ON Monday, March 19 I attended a discussion of benefits for military veterans, which took place at the offices of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO.
Two representatives of the Corporal Michael J. Cresenz VA Medical Center, 3900 Woodland Street-Fern S. Billet, Congressional Liaison and Community Relations Specialist; and Lynn A. Watson, MS, facility Telehealth Coordinator-addressed a group of labor officials and activists about the health benefits available to former service-members, so they could pass it on to their unions’ members, and of whom have performed military service.
The center was named after Corporal Michael J. Crescenz, a Philadelphia native who was killed in Viet Nam, and received the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Watson and Billet described the agencies of the Department of Veterans Affairs: the Veterans Benefits Administration, which handles financial benefits of all types, like disability payment; the Veterans Health Administration, which handles the health care needs of veterans; and the National Cemetery Administration, which oversees national veterans cemeteries and burial benefits. Watson’s and Billet’s focus was on the health care aspect; the VHA has over 1700 sites nationwide for health care for veterans, and serves 8.7 million veterans a day.
The Crescenz Center has 277 operating beds, including 142 in the Medical Center and 135 in the Community Living Center, a nursing home for veterans. In Fiscal 2017, the center served 58,370, 5,704 of whom were women; there were 618,399 outpatient visits.
In the tristate region, the VA also has three community-based out-patient clinics in Burlington and Gloucester counties, New Jersey, and in and the Victor J. Saracini Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Horsham, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. There is also a clinical annex in Camden, a new clinic opening in west Philadelphia-6232 Market Street-opening in the fall; a twelve-chair dialysis center at 42nd and Chestnut streets; and Snyder House, on Broad Street and Snyder Avenue, a drug and alcohol rehab center, which has 40 beds.
Part of the VA health system is the Veterans Crisis Line, which provides support for veterans and their loved ones, including suicide prevention. (If you are a veteran or a family member of a veteran, and you need help, please call the Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255.)
The Crescenz center has an academic affiliation with the University of Pennsylvania Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Nursing, and 45 other health care programs affiliations for nursing, and other allied health training programs.
If you are a military veteran, and you received a discharge other than dishonorable, I encourage you to look into the VA’s health care system. Your country owes you, and you owe it to yourself. The number to the Crescenz Center is (215) 823-5800.