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“RI Veterans: Did you know?” – by John Cianci

RI Veterans: Did You Know?

by John A. Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer, Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)

Look for this column every Thursday…                  

“COVID VACCINATION UPDATE – PROVIDENCE VA MEDICAL CENTER”

All veterans, spouses, caregivers, and eligible beneficences are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, the Providence VA Medical offering vaccines to all age groups of Veterans, spouses, caregivers, and eligible beneficences covered under CHAMPVA.

Last month President Joe Biden signed into law the Save Lives Act. The law allows the Veterans Administration (VA) to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to all Veterans, their spouses, caregivers, and even eligible beneficiaries of Veterans (if your eligible for CHAMPVA, you can get the vaccine from the VA).

Kudos to the Providence VA Medical Center for immediately, after the law and VA set up their policies and programs, for becoming one of the first VA facilities to implement a program to enact the law – offering vaccine to all age Veteran age groups, spouses, caregivers, and some beneficiaries.

From my own personal experience receiving the Pfizer first and second shot from the Providence VA Medical Center, the process was smooth and efficient. Five-star rating! Another Veteran and I had been told last month about the VA walk-in policy to receive the vaccine. Simply walk-in at the Providence VA and ask for the vaccine; if the VA had extra doses, they would vaccinate you.

We arrived at the main entrance at 7:45 am and were screened to enter the facility. We were directed to the 2nd floor for the shot, waited less than 5 minutes before we got that “shot” in our arms. We then waited the mandatory 20 minutes, and soon exited the VA a few minutes before 8:30 am—with first Pfizer shot in arm. During the process, we were scheduled for our second vaccine which would be on a Sunday, and a “drive-up”.

For the second shot scheduled 15 days later, on a Sunday, we arrived about 10 minutes early for our 9:00 am appointment and once again it was a well-organized and smooth operation. Maybe 5 minutes later, the second shot, the Pfizer vaccine, was in the arm. Within minutes, we were exiting the Providence VA Medical Center parking lot and heading to ROMA in Federal Hill for a zeppole and cappuccino. Later, we would be joined by other Veterans who could not say more good things about their experiences getting their second shot.  

As a Veteran myself, the consensus in the Veteran community is that the Providence VA Medical Center has excelled, not only in administrating the vaccine, but providing 5-star experiences. In addition, the process to sign-up and receive the vaccine was user-friendly for the Veterans; and included registering those Veterans who were not enrolled in the VA healthcare system.

VETTIP. I strongly recommend if you do not have a VA ID card and have not been at the VA for years, bring a copy of your DD214, don’t take a chance on the VA database to be able to retrieve your information.

Be sure to thank the staff and volunteers at the Providence VA Medical Center; they have been on the front lines for our Veterans throughout this pandemic. I personally THANK THEM for the great experience I had in receiving the vaccine.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I schedule an appointment?

For Veterans, spouses, and caretakers who have not been vaccinated, try the following: send the word Vaccine to 53079 to get scheduled for a COVI-19 Vaccine, or call. Call for an appointment, (401) 273-7100, extension 16226.

Additionally, you can set-up an appointment by signing up online, https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/signup

Where can I get the vaccine from the VA?

At the Providence VA Medical Center, 830 Chalkstone Ave, Providence, RI, 0800-0200PM. Bring your VA ID card or other ID if you are registered. If you are not registered you MUST BRING YOUR DD214, photo ID, and you will be required to fill out a VA 1010EZ.

Spouses and caregivers – bring an ID. Beneficiaries have an ID and CHAMPVA card/information with you.

For Veterans, spouses, and caretakers who have not been vaccinated try the following: send the word Vaccine to 53079 to get scheduled for a COVI-19 Vaccine, or call to schedule an appointment, (401) 273-7100 extension 16226.

VETTIP: Providence VA Medical continues to allow walk-ins, however, if you call, they will encourage you to make an appointment and might tell you differently). If you are not registered, go to VA.gov and print up VA form 10-10EZ. Take 5-10 minutes, complete and bring it with you when you go for the vaccine.

COVID-19 UPCOMING VA CLINICS

—Saturday, April 10, 2021 9:00am until 1:00pm, Cape Cod Community College, 2240 Iyannough Rd., West Barnstable. MA.

—Monday, April 12th, 2021 9:00am until 11:00am, 1400 W. Main Rd, Middletown RI.  Janssen single dose will be available for Veterans and their spouses.

No appointment required at these clinics; first come first serve basis. If you are not registered you MUST BRING YOUR DD214, photo ID, and you will be required to fill out a 1010EZ.

UPDATE!

Clinic announced for next Wednesday for working people—–Attention Working Veterans! There will be an evening clinic for Veterans and their spouses/caretakers on Wednesday, April 14th from 4pm-8pm at the Medical Center. The clinic will take place on the second floor C wing. If you are not enrolled in VA Healthcare please bring a copy of your DD214, Photo ID and complete 1010EZ (available at VA.gov). Non-Veteran spouses and caretakers will need to fill out the SAVE LIVES form in this post. If you want to submit your paperwork early please send it to Heather.Oberg@va.gov.

VETTIP: I recommend if you are not enrolled or not sure you are enrolled, print the VA 1010EZ off the VA website, https://www.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/10-10EZ-fillable.pdf and have it completed before you arrive for the vaccine: although the VA will assist you filling out the form at the clinic, having the form completed priot to arrival, will expedite the process if receiving the vaccine.

To contact John, itamri4vets@gmail or telephone (401) 677-9VET. ITAM organization is a congressional charter veteran organization, offering FREE advocacy and services to Veterans and their families trying to understand and apply for federal and state benefits are entitled to.

Here is the VA News Release on the Save Live Law:

SAVE LIVES Act allows VA to soon provide COVID-19 vaccinations to all Veterans, spouses and caregivers

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed the SAVE LIVES Act into law today, expanding VA’s legal authority to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all Veterans, regardless of their VA health care enrollment status, as well as Veteran spouses, caregivers and some beneficiaries. 

The SAVE LIVES Act removed some of the legal limits on the medical care VA can provide to Veterans, based on health care eligibility and priority groups

The expanded authority depends on readily available COVID-19 vaccine supply and requires VA to continue to prioritize vaccinations and healthcare delivery for our nation’s Veterans enrolled in VA care. 

“The SAVE LIVES Act increases the number of individuals who are eligible to get lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines from VA from 9.5 million to more than 33 million,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “Meeting the task of vaccinating this expanded population will be a tremendous undertaking for the VA and will require a significant increase in our allocation of vaccine supply, but I am confident that VA’s workforce is up to the task.” 

VA is providing COVID-19 vaccinations to Veterans and employees per its COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. As of March 24, VA has fully vaccinated 1,594,812 individuals, including Veterans, VA employees and federal partners.

The next steps in VA’s prioritized expansion efforts are to offer the vaccine to all enrolled Veterans – approximately 9.5 million – followed by those outlined in the bill, as vaccine supply permits:

  • Non-enrolled Veterans as defined in the new legislation, including those without service-connected disabilities and who have incomes above VA’s threshold.
  • Overseas Veterans who rely on the Foreign Medical Program.
  • Veteran caregivers who are enrolled in either the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers or the Program of General Caregiver Support Services.
  • Veteran caregivers enrolled in certain Geriatrics and Extended Care Programs, such as Veteran Directed Care, Bowel and Bladder, Home Based Primary Care and VA’s Medical Foster Home Program.
  • Civilian Health and Medical Programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs recipients.
  • Veteran spouses.

In March and April 2021, VA will conduct pilots of COVID-19 vaccination for individuals specified in HR1276 at select VA medical centers. These pilots will work through critical steps in the process including communications, operations including space and staffing, systems for registration, enrollment, and scheduling, documentation, and data transmission. 

VA currently receives approximately 200,000 first, or single doses, of COVID-19 vaccine each week. VA estimates that it will need a minimum of 300,000 first or single doses of COVID-19 vaccine weekly to offer COVID-19 vaccination to an additional three million Veterans who are enrolled but not currently using VA health care. VA estimates that it will need approximately 600,000 first, or single doses, of COVID-19 vaccine each week to further expand vaccination to all individuals outlined in HR1276. First or single dose supply is the best indicator of VA’s capacity to offer expanded COVID-19 vaccination. 

Interested Veterans, their caregivers and Veteran spouses who qualify under the legislation can click here to get more information about COVID-19 vaccines at VA. Updates will be provided regarding the availability of vaccine supply and other resources. 

_____

John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp For Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.

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