Military & Veteran Services Newsletter

March 19, 2020

Dear students,

As we adjust to the unprecedented events that have unfolded as a result of COVID-19 and navigate the transition to remote learning, the Office of Military and Veteran Services stands by to provide you with information and updates and to support you through this process. You are an essential part of the WashU community. We want you to take care of yourselves and your loved ones and to stay safe and healthy during this time.

Please visit the university’s COVID-19 website for additional information about WashU’s response efforts, to include the COVID-19 School Updates page. Also refer to the Teaching and Learning Continuity website for student information about learning online.

Military and Veteran Services Remote Operations: Due to COVID-19, the Office of Military and Veteran Services is working remotely. If you’d like to speak with someone from our office, please schedule a Zoom teleconference appointment. Email veterans@wustl.edu if you need to speak to someone immediately or if you’re unable to find a suitable appointment time. Our website also provides considerable information about our services.

Status of VA Educational Benefits: Visit our website for the latest information on COVID-19’s impact on VA benefits. With the shift to online instruction starting March 23rd, we’re awaiting official VA guidance on what this means for VA educational beneficiaries. VBA Education Service has asked schools to refrain from making any adjustments to enrollment certifications, pending additional guidance from the VA. WashU’s School Certifying Officials are not taking any action at this time.

As of March 19th, the Senate and House passed S.3503 and the bill will be headed to POTUS to sign, which will give the VA the authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted in the event of national emergencies. The new law allows for VA to continue to pay benefits regardless of the fact that the program has changed from resident training to online training. Also, students will continue to receive the same monthly housing allowance payments that they received for resident training until January 1, 2021, or until the school resumes normal operations of resident training. VA is working to immediately implement the new changes to address current and future school terms to ensure students continue to receive their education benefits.

If you have questions about your specific circumstances, please contact the VA Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551 between 8 am and 7 pm Eastern, Monday-Friday. Please email us with additional questions.

Military and Veteran Recognition Ceremony Cancelled: Based on the university’s difficult decision to cancel Commencement, we regretfully must also cancel the Military and Veteran Recognition Ceremony, in conjunction with the cancellation of all other affinity recognition ceremonies. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to watch Chancellor Martin’s heartfelt address to the Class of 2020 with a message of deep sadness, empathy, hope, and purpose. In terms of logistics for future Commencement events, as Chancellor Martin mentioned, those pieces are still being determined, and we will share more as information becomes available.

Updated Habif Health and Wellness Center Operations: Habif Health and Wellness Center is still open and available for the remaining undergrads living on campus and graduate/undergrad students who remain in the St. Louis community. Below is an outline of the services they are offering. Please contact Habif at the numbers listed below with questions.

  • Medical
    • Beginning Monday 3/23, the clinic will be open Mon-Fri 9am-4pm and Sat 9am-1pm
    • We will be suspending routine healthcare (allergy shots, non-critical immunizations, physical exams, well women exams, etc.)
    • We have eliminated the ability for students to self-book appointments via the web portal. This will allow us to properly screen all patients.
    • In order to schedule an appointment, students should call 314.935.6677 during business hours for screening/scheduling.
    • Students can walk in during clinic hours and will be screened at that time. If they come in for a routine need, they will not be seen.
    • After-hours students can call 314.935.6666 and follow the prompts to connect with the Nurse Advice Line
  • Mental Health
    • Mental Health staff are now all working remotely.
    • Due to constraints with HIPAA, licensing regulations, and professional ethics, we will not be able to conduct therapy via telehealth modalities (in spite of Trump’s suspension of HIPAA penalties).
    • We will be offering brief mental health check-ins and consultations via zoom.
    • If a student wishes to schedule with a therapist they can call 314.935.6695 during business hours
    • Mental Health triage will also continue to function by calling 314.935.6695 during business hours
    • For after-hours mental health support students can call 314.935-6666 and follow the prompts to reach Provident.
  • Pharmacy
    • Quadrangle Pharmacy will be open Mon-Fri 9am-3pm
    • Students needing to transfer prescriptions to home pharmacies can call 314.935.6662 during business hours. 

Additional Resources: Below are additional resources to support you during the coming days and weeks ahead.

  • The Taking Care website includes information, resources, and strategies, including military- and veteran-specific resources, to help you manage your mental well-being while we, as a community, come together to unite around the educational and research mission of our school.
  • The Kaufman Fund’s Veteran Mental Health Collaborative works with the St. Louis VA and community-based mental health service organizations to provide help to veterans of all ages by improving access to clinical services and mental health needs for veterans and their families. Agencies accept insurance, Tricare and VA community care (through the MISSION Act) and also offer sliding scale fees and provide pro bono counseling in limited cases.
  • Military OneSource is a 24/7 connection to information, answers and support to help military service members and their families reach their goals, overcome challenges and thrive. Military OneSource offers a range of services and support, including free confidential non-medical counseling. Members of the military community are eligible to use this Department of Defense-funded program anytime, anywhere.
  • Operation Food Search provides food assistance resources for individuals and families in the St. Louis region. If you or someone you know are in need of food assistance, visit the map for locations near you, contact the Hunger Hotline at (314) 726-5355 x1, or text your ZIP code to (785) 503-3310. You can also refer to this new spreadsheet listing additional food resources, courtesy of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. Students outside the St. Louis area should visit the Feeding America website to find your local food bank.
  • VA Vet Centers provide a broad range of counseling, outreach, and referral services to combat veterans and their families. Vet Centers guide veterans and their families through many of the major adjustments in lifestyle that often occur after a veteran returns from combat. Services for a veteran may include individual and group counseling in areas such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), alcohol and drug assessment, and suicide prevention referrals. All services are free of cost and are strictly confidential. There are two Vet Centers in the region: the St. Louis Vet Center and the East St. Louis Vet Center.
  • VA Whole Health is patient-centered care that affirms the importance of the relationship and partnership between patients and their community of providers. It is an approach to health care that empowers and equips people to take charge of their health and well-being and to live their life to the fullest. VA facilities have been exploring what it takes to shift from a system designed around points of medical care primarily focused on disease management, to one that is based in a partnership across time focused on whole health. They have learned that clinical encounters are only one part of this equation. We need a health system focused not only on treatment but also on self-empowerment, self-healing, and self-care. Contact (314) 289-6583.
  • There are many Veteran Service Organizations in the St. Louis community that are available to support our student veterans and their family members. These organizations include but are not limited to the American LegionAmerican VeteransDAVFocus Marines FoundationIraq and Afghanistan Veterans of AmericaMilitary Order of the Purple HeartParalyzed Veterans of AmericaTeam RWBTeam RubiconVeterans of Foreign WarsVietnam Veterans of America, and Wounded Warrior Project. These VSOs can often provide resources that may not otherwise be available on campus or in the community. The VA maintains a Directory of Veteran Service Organizations that serves as an additional resource of the various VSOs that exist.
  • The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.
  • WashU Libraries provides several resources for students, including a Library Guide to Remote Resources and Guidance for Users and the Library Guide to the Coronavirus.

We stand ready to offer you support and encouragement during these unprecedented times and we encourage you to reach out to us.

Be well and take care!

Regards,
Jen

Jennifer Goetz, M.Ed., MSW, LCSW | Veteran Student Services Advisor | Military and Veteran Services
Washington University in St. Louis | Umrath Hall, Room 121 | One Brookings Drive, Campus Box 1175 | St. Louis, MO 63130
Email: jennifer.goetz@wustl.edu | Office: (314) 935-2609 |  Website: https://veterans.wustl.edu
Schedule an appointment: https://meetme.so/milvet