YMCA outreach assists veterans

Telegraph photo by ADAM URQUHART U.S. Navy veteran Barry Jordan served from 1970-72. He stopped by the YMCA of Greater Nashua Saturday for VA Information Day. Here, he completes some forms while Women Veterans Program Manager Laura Caisse talks him through the process.

NASHUA – The Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center has come a long way through the last 20 years to offer a comprehensive health care system for veterans, and representatives were at the YMCA of Greater Nashua Saturday morning to inform veterans of how they can help them.

The VA Information Day saw a couple veterans arrive early, eager to learn more. With just a DD Form 214 discharge document in hand, all veterans were welcome to speak with subject matter professionals on VA eligibility, eHealth Exchange and health promotion.

“Typically, that’s the thing,” Outreach Coordinator Michael Bichrest said. “They’re waiting at the door for me, and when we leave, they’re escorting us out. Typically, we’ve had really good success with this; hence, the reason we’re back for the fourth year.”

He said one of the ways to lower the barrier around the VA is for officials to get out in places where veterans are most comfortable, where and when it is convenient for them.

“A lot of veterans come to the gym early in the morning; here we are,” Bichrest said.

Women Veterans Program Manager Laura Caisse joined Bichrest during the event. She said at all of their outreach events, they make sure their individuals know the system so they can talk to veterans about eligibility, and also bring forms for veterans to get enrolled then and there. She said they take the forms back and get the veterans into their system, so they can follow them through the entire process of getting enrolled. She said the VA offers veterans almost everything, including receiving primary care. She said they have various specialists available to address cardiology, oncology, and an allergy and pain clinic to name some examples.

“Whatever that need is, we are able to provide it there, and if it’s something that we aren’t able to provide, we partner with our community to provide it,” Caisse said.

Another important topic the VA makes sure to cover at these outreach events is suicide prevention. Bichrest said whenever the VA does an outreach program, all that information is available.

“When you’re in the Army, you fall out before you drop an issue with one of your soldiers, and that’s my intent with this. I’m going to be here for the long-term taking care of them,” Bichrest said.