DANVILLE — Memo to veterans: Operators are standing by, waiting for your call.
Or, at least, they will be Thursday when the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System conducts its third phone-a-thon from 2-6 p.m.
Veterans who are not enrolled in VA health care are asked to call that number to see if they’re eligible.
Hilary Edgerly, phone-a-thon organizer, said the event is an effort to make sure staff is available to answer any questions from veterans who live in the catchment area, but aren’t enrolled in the VA.
The catchment area covers more than 30 counties in east central Illinois and a couple in Indiana.
“If you’re a veteran who isn’t currently receiving care through the VA Illiana Health Care System, for whatever reason, give us a call and our experts will be on hand to answer your questions,” said Edgerly, who’s also acting chief of social work service.
Examples of calls that the VA hopes to receive include: veterans who were previously not eligible for VA health care, veterans who don’t believe they’re eligible, veterans who believe they are ineligible because they never served in a combat zone, and others.
If veterans are eligible, an appointment will be set up for them.
This is the first year that the VA has asked veterans to call. The past two years, volunteers called veterans who are in the system, but who have been inactive within a two-year window.
The staff at the out-patient clinics in Mattoon, Decatur, Springfield and Peoria will be calling veterans they haven’t seen in a while.
At Danville, 10 volunteers each hour will be available to take calls.
Last year, Edgerly said, the response to the phone-a-thon was good, and many veterans were re-established with health care. Also, last year, a TV station showed up and wanted to show a number for veterans to call.
That gave Edgerly the idea to try a different way to reach out to veterans, and she’s interested in seeing how well it goes over.
“We’re here waiting,” she said. “We want them to sign up with us.”
Veterans are asked to call 554-3379 between 2 and 6 p.m. Thursday to see if they’re eligible for health care.