5 June 2020
Clarification of Statement Made by the Honorable Senator Donna Frett-Gregory
The Honorable Senator Donna Frett-Gregory on June 5, 2020, made a statement as part of the finance committee meeting which requires immediate clarification.
After asking for a point of personal privilege the senator stated “I think it’s time that we require the leader, Mr. Patrick Farrell of the Veterans Affair, to establish a policy to address the Veterans that have to travel off-island”. Senator Frett Gregory went on to say, “If the policies are established then we can look at if the cost to travel to Puerto Rico is fifty dollars and the cost to travel to the mainland is ah hundred then we give them the difference. But we need to establish what that policy is, I think that’s missing; and we had that conversation with him before”. The senator further went on to say “It’s time that we require him to establish that policy so we can know exactly what it is cause I don’t want for anyone to believe that any of us in this body is not in support of the Veterans. Once we put the respective policies in place then the Veterans would be clear on what you can and cannot do”, said Senator Frett-Gregory.
Senator Frett Gregory is correct about having a prior conversation on this matter. The recommendations given by Senator Frett-Gregory and other Senators to create a policy were accepted. This would be a policy that would financially assist eligible Veterans who elect to travel to their VA Medical facility of choice for medical care. This policy is available on the website of our agency, https://veterans.vi.gov. I also host a weekly radio show which provides this type of information to our Veterans. If I may add, Senator Thomas and Senator Hodge, who are Veterans themselves, are aware of this policy. Important to note, Veterans are reimbursed 100% of what they pay for their plane ticket by the VI Office of Veterans Affairs when traveling for medical appointments to the VA Med Center in San Juan.
I was virtually present in the meeting when it was stated that the Office of Veterans Affairs did not have a policy in place for the matter at hand. It was very disappointing that I was not allowed to respond and publicly share the availability of this policy. I find that to be very unfair. As professionals we must find a better way to deal with each other versus tearing down each other’s character; we must cease from this type of behavior, said Director Farrell.
For more information please reach out to the VI Office of Veterans Affairs at (340) 774-8387 or (340) 773-8387.
See Press Release: Press Release – Response to Senator Gregory
4 June 2020
VI Office of Veterans Affairs Collaborates with My Brother’s Workshop
The Virgin Islands Office of Veterans Affairs has enlisted the assistance of My Brother’s Workshop to manufacture flag cases locally for next-of-kin of deceased Veterans.
One of the events that take place as part of military burial honors is the presentation of a neatly folded United States Flag. That flag is authorized to be presented to the legal next-of-kin of deceased Veterans. More times than none, after presentation, these burial flags are used as keepsakes by family members to remember the long and faithful service rendered to the United States by their loved one. To assist with the longevity of the flag, the Office of Veterans Affairs joined with My Brother’s Workshop to create something that would assist in that endeavor. Trainees guided by members of the staff at My Brother’s Workshop created a masterpiece that will mark a significant difference from the usual plastic cases issued previously.
“I am absolutely pleased that we will be able to provide a sturdier flag case for the families of our deceased Veterans. Not only will it look better, but it will enhance the shelf life of this very important keepsake. Unfortunately, we will not be able retroactively issue flag cases”, said Director Farrell.
For more information please reach out to the VI Office of Veterans Affairs using one of the following means of communication:
See Press Release: Press Release – Office of Veterans Affairs Collaborates with MBW
2 June 2020
Additional COVID-19 Test Kits Available for Veterans on 3 June 2020
The VA Caribbean Healthcare System will be conducting the final day of testing for Virgin Islands Veterans on Wednesday June 3rd, 2020 on the island of St Thomas.
Initially testing was done by appointment only however, there will be 25 additional test kits available on Wednesday June 3rd, 2020. Veterans interested in having the test done can report to the VA Clinic on the island of St Thomas between the hours of 9am and 12pm. Please have a photo I.D. available once you arrive. Testing will take place using a drive-thru concept; there will be no need to exit your vehicle. If you are not driving, arrangements will be made for you to be tested simultaneously using a different method.
Any Veteran missing this opportunity in either district, and begin experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms, please call the VA Clinical Contact Center at 1-877-741-3400 for further instructions.
For more information on how the VA Caribbean Healthcare System is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic please visit www.caribbean.va.gov/emergency or call Director Farrell of the Virgin Islands Office of Veterans Affairs at (340) 774-8387.
See Press Release: Press Release – Addittional COVID-19 Test Kits Available for Veterans
2 June 2020
Burial Honors for Deceased Veterans to Resume June 5th, 2020
The Virgin Islands Office of Veterans Affairs and the Virgin Islands National Guard is happy to announce the resuming of Burial Honors for eligible deceased Veterans. Unfortunately, during the period when the nation took a pause to safeguard as much lives as possible, this service was affected.
Starting June 5th, 2020, all efforts will be made to honor eligible deceased Veterans at their final interment as usual. Family members are asked to visit the V.I. Office of Veterans Affairs in their island district to make the necessary arrangements. As a reminder, only the lawful next-of-kin is eligible to make these arrangements with the office.
Families who lost a Veteran during the time when burial honors were suspended will be afforded the opportunity to be a part of a joint remembrance ceremony. Once details are available, the families involved will be contacted. In the event you did not notify the Office of Veterans Affairs of your loved ones’ passing, please contact us at once. This will enable us to include you in the upcoming ceremony.
If there are questions, please reach out to the VI Office of Veterans Affairs using one of the following means of communication:
Phone: (340) 774-8387 or (340) 773-8387
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact us prior to coming to the office. Contacting us prior to coming to the office will assist us in continuing to safeguard the lives of Veterans, their families, and the staff of the VI Office of Veterans Affairs.
See Press Release: Press Release – Burial Honors Resume
VI Veterans Affairs Director Appointed to Executive Committee of National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs
The Director of the Virgin Islands Office of Veterans Affairs, Patrick D. Farrell, has recently been appointed to the executive committee of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA). This will mark the first time that someone from a U.S. Territory has been a part of the executive committee in its 74-year history.
NASDVA is an organization with a history dating back to 1946. The members of NASDVA represent all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Nationally, they are the second largest provider of services to veterans and their roles continue to expand.
John Hilgert, President, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs and Director of the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs approved Farrell’s nomination.
“We are fortunate to have Director Patrick Farrell join the Executive Committee of NASDVA. His passion of the Virgin Islands is only eclipsed by his commitment to his fellow veterans. In a national organization that represents all Territories and States, it is important to have individuals that lead by example, that are patient yet strong and always put veterans first; Director Farrell is such a leader”, said John Hilgert.
Director Farrell has been an active part of the association since first being appointed as the Director of the VI Office of Veterans Affairs in January of 2015. “As always, I am prepared to serve for the benefit of our Veterans. I am especially happy because it will mean more representation for Veterans not just in the Virgin Islands but throughout all territories of the United States. In NASDVA, all Directors / Commissioners of the territories have agreed to one agenda; To get the nation to understand that all Veterans of the United States Armed Forces must be equally visible and that we deserve equal benefits no matter where we were born or decide to live after leaving the service”, said Director Farrell.
See Press Release: Press Release – Executive Committee Apointment
VI Office of Veterans Affairs Launches Agency Website
The Virgin Islands Office of Veterans Affairs is happy to announce the launching of their agency website. This will be the first of its kind in the modern-day history of the agency.
Veterans will now be able to access most services of the agency virtually because of having this website. Being able to make a request of their veteran eligibility status, education tuition waivers, medical travel reimbursements, and registration are just a few of the benefits of having the newly created website. Family members of Veterans will also be able to request burial reimbursements if they find themselves in that situation. In addition to services, Veterans and their families will be able to view policies related to the office, changes to both local and federal benefits and entitlements, and keep track of upcoming events.
Director Farrell credits the hard work and patience of Mr. Erskin Hansen of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Information Technology for the creation of the website. “We suggested what we would like for the website to look like and what we wanted it to accomplish and he just went to work on it. We are very grateful for his assistance. Because of his work, we can make our contribution to Governor Bryan’s quest to digitize the Virgin Islands Government”, said Director Farrell.
Veterans and their family members can access the website at https://veterans.vi.gov
If there are questions please reach out to the VI Office of Veterans Affairs by calling (340) 774-8387 or (340) 773-8387 or by sending an email to email@example.com before coming to the office. Contacting us prior to coming to the office will assist you in taking advantage of the “Safer at Home” recommendation currently in place.
“Continuing to safeguard the lives of Veterans, their families, and the staff of the VI Office of Veterans Affairs”.
See Press Release: Press Release – Office of Veterans Website
Veterans License Plates to Be Issued
The Virgin Islands Office of Veterans Affairs will be issuing license plates to those eligible Veterans who were not able to replace their original style VA plates. Plates will be issued at the office in your respective district on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30am to 12pm. Any Veteran seeking to complete this process will need to have a current DD214 on file at the office or bring one with you when coming. Please try to renew your license plates as soon as possible. In the very near future, the original VA license plates will no longer be an authorized license plate in the Virgin Islands
Veterans wanting to register a newly imported vehicle must have proof of sales tax being paid in addition to eligibility documents in order to complete this process.
As a reminder, no more than 2 sets of license plates will be issued per Veteran.
NOTE: In order to continue safeguarding the lives of our Veterans, their families, and the staff of the Virgin Islands Office of Veterans Affairs, we are asking Veterans to adhere to the following days of issue:
- Last Name A-M on Mondays
- Last Name N-Z on Wednesdays
For more information please call (340)774-8387 or (340) 773-8387.
Any further updates can be heard on “The Veterans Voice” radio show, Tuesday evenings from 7-8pm on 107.9 FM.
See Press Release Press Release – Issuing of VA License Plates
COVID-19 Assistance Available Through CARES ACT for Eligible Veterans
The Methodist Training and Outreach Center, Inc. (MTOC) was awarded additional funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program to serve homeless veterans through the CARES Act. This funding is to be used to immediately meet the needs of homeless veterans or those veterans who may be facing homelessness through the loss of current housing.
MTOC, in conjunction with the Virgin Islands Office of Veterans Affairs are currently trying to identify more veterans who may need this assistance. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes the immediate need to serve homeless veterans and slow the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The CARES funding allows MTOC to expand on services that are already available through the SSVF program. The goal of the CARES Act SSVF funding is to allow MTOC to meet the immediate needs of homeless veterans and reduce the exposure of vulnerable populations (as defined by the CDC) who may be at greater risk to or from contracting the COVID-19 virus. The goal of the grant is to prevent and end homelessness among low-income veterans by promoting housing stability. The grant funds are being used to provide supportive services to low-income veterans living in or transitioning to permanent housing.
Veterans are asked to first reach out to the VI Office of Veterans Affairs to verify eligibility by calling (340) 774-8387 or (340) 773-8387 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To continue safeguarding the lives of Veterans, their families, and the staff of the VI Office of Veterans Affairs please call before coming to the office. That call may alleviate an office visit.
The Supportive Services Program can assist eligible veterans on St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John.
For more information on eligibility or to apply for the SSVF program call:
MTOC at (340)714-7782, (340)713-0555 or the Office of Veterans Affairs at (340)774-8387 or (340)773-8387
See PRESS RELEASE: Press Release – MTOC Funding for VI Veterans (Revised)
Virgin Islands Veterans to Be Tested for COVID-19
The VA Caribbean Healthcare System will begin testing Veterans residing in the Virgin Islands for COVID-19 at their clinic locations on St. Croix and St. Thomas. Testing will be done by appointment only. Testing will take place 2 days a week for the next 4 weeks beginning on Monday May 11th, 2020. On Monday’s testing will take place at the St. Croix VA Clinic which is located at the Village Mall in Baron Spot and on Wednesdays at the St. Thomas VA Clinic which is located in the Medical Foundation building behind the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital. Testing at both locations will take place outside of the actual clinics using a drive-thru type concept.
Veterans residing in the US Virgin Islands that are going to be tested already have been identified and contacted to inform them of their appointment. This does not preclude other Veterans from getting tested. Fifty (50) Veterans have been scheduled for the first day with the possibility of an additional 20 Veterans being tested. Any Veteran feeling the need to be tested because of having any COVID-19 related symptoms are asked to call the VA Clinical Contact Center at 1-877-741-3400 for further instructions prior to visiting the VA clinic.
The VA Caribbean Healthcare System, the Virgin Islands Department of Health and the Virgin Islands Office of Veterans Affairs have collaborated on a plan for any Veteran found to be positive or displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
For more information on how the VA Caribbean Healthcare System is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic please visit www.caribbean.va.gov/emergency or call Director Farrell of the Virgin Islands Office of Veterans Affairs at (340) 774-8387
See PRESS RELEASE: Press Release – VI Veterans to Be Tested for COVID-19