COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV)– The WM Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center looking to increase transparency held an open house Wednesday. It was an opportunity for the pubic to see what goes on inside and to connect our veterans with much needed resources.
For some, helping our veterans is a personal mission. The founder of Operation Veteran Support, Dr. Glen Brown, has seen the effects of combat on military families with his own eyes. He described a traumatic event with a family member years ago.
“Unfortunately one day a helicopter came over his house and he had a flashback and he grabbed his gun and he shot his wife four times and I witnessed it and I developed PTSD,” said Brown.
In 2014, 18% of suicides in the country were veterans, an area the Dorn VA Medical Center is working to improve. The medical center director explained how connecting veterans with medical services is essential to prevent tragedies, which is why it’s one of the 5 points in the mission of Veteran Affairs.
“We are very focused in developing many programs to help reach out to our veterans, to find concerns that are bubbling up and hopefully alleviate them,” said David Omura.
There are 400,000 veterans eligible for benefits in South Carolina. Dorn VA currently serves 82 thousand.
One of the biggest challenges our veterans face deals with benefits. A lot of veterans are unaware of what they’re eligible for.
“A lot of veterans don’t know what they qualify for they have a misconception on both sides, sometimes a veteran may think he gets a home because he served but there are still qualifications, a lot of veterans don’t know what they qualify for, a lot of times families of those who serve qualify also,” explained Dr. Glen Brown.
In 2014, an average of 20 veterans a day committed suicide. 6 of the 20 were users of VA services.
The director of Dorn VA says they have been able to decrease wait times in all departments to just under 30 days.