VA considers natural disaster response as part of agency’s fourth mission


The Department of Veterans Affairs has sent medical personnel and other supports to areas affected by extreme weather conditions.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is sending medical personnel and other supports to areas affected by Hurricane Ida, a process Secretary Denis McDonough has said is essential to the agency’s mission. The agency is also requesting budget support to better enable VA to respond to storms and other natural disasters.

The agency has mobilized this Fourth Mission, or obligation to provide medical support and other forms of emergency aid in times of national crisis, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic during overflow situations within civilian hospitals. And in the midst of Hurricane Ida, the agency expanded its support by providing refuge for displaced ex-combatants, including opening spaces at VA centers located in the cities of Louisiana, Shreveport and Monroe, where the hurricane made landfall late last month.

This emergency response process also includes sending VA workers to crisis areas, a process the agency has overseen following recent natural disasters.

“VA employees have been on the ground for every emergency that has arisen over the past two months,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said at a recent press conference with reporters in Washington, DC. “For example, in response to Hurricane Ida, more than 180 VA employees were deployed to Louisiana as emergency disaster medical personnel, also known as DEMP.”

VA appears to consider this allocation of manpower, space and resources for disaster response as part of its budget demands, with the agency requesting funding commensurate with the technical capacities and physical infrastructure needed to support this response scope.

“The House has started this process to get us this $ 18 billion in additional investment in our infrastructure … as we look at this infrastructure investment program, we are looking very seriously at how to bring it into line with the requirements of an infrastructure investment program. has changed the climate, ”McDonough said.

McDonough noted that DEMPs will be critical in supporting areas affected by storms and other natural disasters, with this corps representing the vanguard of VA disaster response.

“Clinicians in our system can register through DEMPS, and we do that both with regard to intense weather events, but we also do in the context of COVID,” McDonough said.


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