U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs | VISN 20 MIRECC | Newsflash | Messages - MIRECC / CoE
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U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs | VISN 20 MIRECC | Newsflash | Messages

988 launches in 2022Signed into law in 2020, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act authorized 988 as the new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. All telephone service providers in the U.S. must activate the number no later than July 2022; however, many providers will choose to implement the service sooner. Once a Veteran's telephone service provider makes 988 available, Veterans can use this new option by dialing 988 then pressing 1 to contact the Veterans Crisis Line. Veterans may still reach the Veterans Crisis Line with the current phone number—1-800-273-8255 and Press 1— through chat, and by text (838255). The Veterans Crisis Line's new number—988 then Press 1—helps make it easier to remember and share the number to access help in times of need. Veterans Crisis Line responders will continue to support Veterans, service members, and their families via 988. Responders are trained in crisis intervention and military culture.

Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) to Pilot in VISN 20 - The VA Medical Center in Anchorage Alaska will conduct a five-year pilot program to provide canine training to eligible Veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as an element of a complementary and integrative health program. PAWS establishes a program for a Veteran to adopt a dog that the Veteran assisted in training during the pilot program if the Veteran and the Veteran's health provider, in consultation with the entity that provided the canine training with respect to that dog under the pilot program, determine that it is in the best interest of the Veteran. The ground-breaking service dog program will assist Veterans suffering from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and other mental disorders related to their military service. Learn more about PAWS on the Federal Register.

VA extends presumptive period for Persian Gulf War Veterans - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has extended the presumptive period to Dec. 31, 2026 for qualifying chronic disabilities rated 10% or more resulting from undiagnosed illnesses in Persian Gulf War Veterans. Gulf War operational names included Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Desert Sabre. In addition, various phases of each operation may have a unique operational name. For VA benefit purposes, Gulf War service is active military duty in any of the following areas in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations at any time August 2, 1990 to present.

  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • The neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
  • Bahrain
  • Qatar
  • The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.)
  • Oman
  • Gulf of Aden
  • Gulf of Oman
  • Waters of the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea
  • The airspace above these locations 

VA’s Gulf War Registry Health Exam alerts Veterans to possible long-term health problems that may be related to environmental exposures during military service. Gulf War Veterans may contact a VA Environmental Health Coordinator about the Gulf War Registry health exam. The Gulf War Registry health exam is separate from VA disability benefits for a presumptive disability or other service-connected condition. Gulf War Veterans may be eligible for a wide-variety of benefits available to all U.S. military Veterans. VA benefits include; Veteran Readiness and Employment, Disability CompensationPensionEducation and TrainingHealth CareHome LoansInsurance, Burial and Memorial Benefits. Need help? Appoint a Veteran Service Organization (VSO), attorney, or claims agent to assist you. In most cases, it is not necessary for Veterans to get assistance from an attorney. However, many Veterans choose to get free assistance from organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). These organizations will typically ask you to sign a limited power of attorney, which will allow them to speak with the VA on your behalf. They can help you determine status, ask the VA to reconsider the severity of your rated ailments, and help you with other support actions.

Tobacco and Health - Smoking may increase your risk for being infected with the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and increase your chance of experiencing severe illness. Smoking harms the lungs, heart, and nearly every organ in the body. To learn more, contact your VA health care provider. Combining smoking cessation medications with counseling offers you the best chance of quitting — and staying tobacco-free. VA offers tobacco cessation counseling, in person or over the phone, to talk about your tobacco use, ways to get tobacco out of your life, coping with triggers, and changing your lifestyle to remain tobacco-free. 

Uniformed Services University, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress - The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has required physical distancing, which altered many aspects of personal and occupational life, including reduced in-person work. A shift to remote work/tele-working changed how workers manage daily routines, develop work goals, perform tasks, and interact with one another. Living with ongoing uncertainty caused by the pandemic has been challenging for many workers and their families. However, as rates of COVID-19 infection decline and more people are vaccinated, many organizations are resuming in-person activities to improve productivity and work performance. Although some workers look forward to face-to-face interactions with co-workers and supervisors, others are likely to feel reluctant.

Use of these Materials and Finding VA Health Care

Please note that the health care information provided in these materials is for educational purposes only. It does not replace the role of a medical practitioner for advice on care and treatment. If you are looking for professional medical care, find your local VA healthcare center by using the VA Facilities Locator & Directory. This page may contain links that will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.

    Explore Northwest Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center       

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The Northwest Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (NW MIRECC) of the Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) 20 seeks to improve the mental health and well-being of Veterans through research and dissemination of information to providers both within the VA and the general public. The NW MIRECC mission is to contribute to better treatment of the unseen wounds of war (PTSD, mild traumatic brain injury, and their comorbidities). The VA VISN 20 Northwest Health Network consists of four states across three time zones; Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. The primary research center located in VA Puget Sound Health Care System is affiliated with the University of Washington. VA Puget Sound serves Veterans from a five-state area in the Pacific Northwest with two main divisions: American Lake and Seattle. In addition to the main medical centers, VA Puget Sound provides health care services in Washington state at six community-based outpatient clinics in Bellevue, Bremerton, Federal Way, Mount Vernon, Port Angeles, and Seattle. The research center located at VA Portland Heath Care System is affiliated with the Oregon Health and Science University. VA Portland serves Veterans from Oregon and Southwest Washington with two main divisions: Portland and Vancouver. In addition to the main medical centers, VA Portland Health Care System provides health care services in Oregon state at ten outpatient clinics in Bend, Fairview, Hillsboro, North Coast (Camp Rilea), Newport, Lincoln City, Portland, Salem, The Dalles, and West Linn. Vet Centers in the VISN 20 Health Care Network are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans, active-duty Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Space Force service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families.

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Veterans Crisis Hotline 1-800-273-8255 - If you are having a medical or mental health emergency, dial 911. If you are having thoughts of suicide, dial 1-800-273-8255, then press 1 at the prompt to reach the Veterans Crisis Line