Local 249 aids veterans at VA hospital

By Pat Hayes

Local 249’s Veteran’s Committee members mobilized in force Feb. 14 to visit patients at the Kansas City Veteran’s Administration Hospital on Linwood Ave. The purpose of the visit was twofold: to assure hospitalized veterans at the facility that they were not forgotten on Valentine’s Day and to deliver the union’s annual $500 donation to Veteran’s Services to purchase coffee and socks for hospitalized veterans there.

Committee members Christopher Scott, Dave Cox, Michael Richardson, Diane Bell, Zach Pridgen, Louis Davidson, Dave Grant and Dave Hernandez went from room to room at the VA Hospital to spend time and share experience with patients at the hospital.

“Veterans experience mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, post-traumatic stress, and traumatic brain injury at disproportionate rates compared to their civilian counterparts,” says Local 249 Veteran’s Committee Chair Dave Grant. “At times, the civilian population can forget the personal cost to our service men and women. That’s why this kind of veteran-to-veteran outreach is so important. We understand them because we
know first-hand what they’re going through.”

The Kansas City VA Hospital, opened in 1952, is located on a 40-acre campus in eastern Kansas City. It provides care to more than 50,000 Veterans each year. More than 200,000 Veterans live in the area served by the VA Kansas City Healthcare System. The hospital maintains 142 beds, which include 79 medical beds, 25 surgical beds, 10 psychiatric beds, and 28 domiciliary beds.

Kansas City’s VA Hospital provides primary care and specialty health services, including mental health care, women’s health services, prosthetics, eye care, treatment for spinal cord injury, foot care and programs to help veterans stop smoking and using tobacco.

“The hospital is a great benefit for area veterans,” says Grant, “but there is no funding for things like socks and coffee. That’s why we donate each year to the hospital’s Veteran’s Services Dept. to make sure that these basic needs are met.” Local 249’s Veteran’s Committee is active year-round in supporting Kansas City’s veteran community. UAW Veteran’s Committees across the country represent the interests of all active and retired UAW veterans and their families.

These committees are dedicated to advocating for the political and social concerns of all veterans. In coming months, Grant says, committee members plan to cook a meal for the families of hospitalized veterans staying at Fisher House, a 16-suite, 14,000 square foot “home away from home,” complete with a fully-equipped kitchen and multiple common areas located within walking distance of the hospital’s main entrance. The House is staffed 24/7 by VA assigned personnel