CRIVITZ — The Oscar G. Johnson Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center of Iron Mountain held a series of town halls on Tuesday, inviting veterans, their families and friends to a presentation on the VA’s new initiatives and programs. The town halls were held in the Oconto County Courthouse and American Legion posts in Crivitz and Menominee. 

Leaders from the VA Medical Center, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and area County Veteran Service Officers were on hand to talk about the newest VA programs, such as the Whole Health Program, and to answer questions regarding VA health care. 

“Every town hall is profitable,” said Brad Nelson, Public Affairs Officer at the Iron Mountain-based VA Medical Center. “We look at it as an opportunity.” 

The idea of holding town halls to connect with veterans began about six years ago, Nelson said, at the suggestion of the VA Medical Center Director James W. Rice, who was in attendance at the Tuesday town halls as well. Since then, about 70 town halls have been held, 32 of which were held this year. 

“We think it’s very important to get feedback,” Nelson said. “Also to get the word out about what’s new.” 

Nelson ran through a brief history of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs before Rice dove into the VA Medical Center’s amenities and services, and other leaders focused on the variety of programs veterans can utilize. New programs included the Whole Health Program, an overall examination of a patient’s needs and goals for their health, and the suicide prevention program, which offers a veterans crisis line at 1-800-273-8255. The VA is also offering a medical appointment reminder app called VEText, which sends a text message reminder to veterans’ phones prior to their scheduled appointments. 

The medical center also held town halls in Tomahawk and Phillips, Wis., on Wednesday and will hold town halls in Eagle River, Wis., and Iron River, Mich., today. 

Questions about the town halls and presentation can be directed to VA Public Affairs Officer Brad Nelson at 1-800-215-8262, ext. 32001; the Oconto County Veteran Service Office at 920-834-6817; the Menominee County Veteran Service Office at 906-863-5691; and the Marinette County Veteran Service Office at 715-732-7650. A live stream post of the Menominee presentation is also available for viewing on the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center’s Facebook page.