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Housing, mental health next big hurdles to tackle for Delaware veterans

Members of Delaware’s Congressional delegation highlight the impact of the recently opened VA community based care center in Dover.


The clinic officially opened at the end of March and tripled the amount of space available at  the previous facility in Dover.


Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware) visited the center Wednesday and discussed the need for comprehensive care for Delaware veterans.


Blunt Rochester says state of the art facilities like this one are the first step towards that care.


“We know that just like the general public has gone through a pandemic, our veterans have been severely impacted as well,” she said. “And so that’s everything from making sure that they’re food secure, that they have housing, that we provide the resources for those who protect us.”


Wilmington VA director Vince Kane agrees affordable housing is a big next step for supporting veterans in Delaware and across the country. He says his organization is encouraging more private landlords to accept housing vouchers.


Kane says this new facility helps address more of their needs than before.

Credit Roman Battaglia / Delaware Public Media
Delaware Public Media
The new facility includes more in-house services including an audiology lab for hearing tests and hearing aid services.


“One of the things we didn’t highlight today is not only is this where our healthcare is, but our vet center which was designed post-Vietnam for veterans who didn’t wanna come to the government, didn’t want to come to VA for care — they’re actually co-located with us,” Kane said. “So it’s really a model about getting better by treating the whole veteran, not only during the episode of care but making sure they’re fully re-integrated back into their community.”


Carper, the last Vietnam veteran in the U.S. Senate, called his VA experience after leaving the Navy subpar. He says veterans’ healthcare in Delaware has improved immensely, and now other needs, like mental health, food insecurity and housing, require attention.


Kane agrees and plans to meet with Gov. Carney this week to discuss those issues, and how the state can support greater access to affordable housing and behavioural health services for Delaware veterans.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.