At this past year’s “Adopt a Vet” Breakfast with Santa, a new member to American Legion Post 45 in Canton, Ga., mentioned that he was having trouble signing up through the government website for the PACT Act. The Afghanistan-decorated Army veteran had mentioned that he was having respiratory issues and needed some help in filing his claim under the PACT Act.
At the breakfast, we were lucky to have John Phillips, who is not only a retired LTC from the Army, but also president of VETLANTA and the local Civilian Assistant to the Secretary of the Army (CASA), in attendance. He spent some time with the young veteran and our team, and a plan was set in place to hold a PACT Act workshop at the post in January.
In a little more than five weeks, the joint VETLANTA, American Legion event was scheduled and held with other groups to include VA, the Georgia Department of Veteran Services, Canton American Legion Post 45 and others. The program was held on Jan. 19 at Post 45, with 28 tables of various eligibility and claims teams as well as other groups such as the VA Veteran Suicide team, VA Homeless team, VA women’s group, VA Post 911 marketing team, VA Vocational rehab, Cherokee County Homeless Veterans program that is part of Legion Post 45, and Highland Rivers Health representing the recently awarded veteran mental health/suicide prevention program.
In all, over 200 veterans from around Cherokee County who are mostly the Vietnam era were processed for eligibility for the PACT Act as were a smaller number of post-9/11 veterans. This was the first such program initiated in the State of Georgia for the PACT Act, but not the last. The lessons learned from this event are being used to establish several other PACT Act workshops across the region.
Veterans who were screened on the 19th had mostly all been seen for CMP exams as of the last day in January.