VA NY Harbor Healthcare System
Veterans Community Town Hall
Monday, April 21, 2014Lyn Johnson, Outreach Specialist and Minority Veteran Coordinator, got out of the US Marine Corps in the mid 1990’s and found himself with an uncertain future. He had been an automotive specialist in the military, but now was unemployed and homeless in his hometown of Brooklyn. Sitting on a park bench, he got to talking with a Vietnam Veteran, sharing that he was feeling weak, dizzy, nauseous. In fact, he had been feeling sick fairly often. “The Vietnam Veteran told me I should get myself checked out at VA because I might have a service-connected illness.”
Following the older Veteran’s advice, Johnson went to VA’s Brooklyn campus where it turned out his illness was in fact service-related. “And, I’ve been treated at VA ever since,” he says. Johnson was also successful in finding employment at VA. He began in Community Relations and has advanced his position over the past 17 years. “I deeply understand the issues Veterans have, particularly as they are transitioning to civilian life. I’ve been there, “ says Johnson.
Johnson and other VA specialists will be on hand on Saturday, May 3, at a Veterans Community Town Hall, from 10AM-2PM hosted at Boys and Girls High School, 1700 Fulton Street, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Town Hall events of this kind are mandated to be held throughout the US, “to reach out to minority Veterans, clarifying information about VA benefits and services,” explains Johnson. He and other VA specialists representing VA Healthcare Enrollment, Veterans Benefits Administration, Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health Service, VA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, National Cemetery Administration and VA Women Veterans Program will be participating in a panel discussion.
The panel will encourage Veterans who attend to air issues and concerns they have regarding VA healthcare and other VA benefits, services and disability claims. Key points made during the panel discussion will form the core of a report sent to VA’s Central Office in Washington, DC, following the Town Hall meeting. Johnson said a new highlight of this Town Hall event will be the availability of VA’s new mobile unit where clinicians will be available, offering free HIV screenings, Blood Pressure Checks and PTSD assessments. “This is a great, convenient opportunity to have a health screening and learn about VA,” says Johnson.