Veterans and Defense Affairs Secretary Carlos Hopkins was in Loudoun on Tuesday to meet with state delegates and representatives of veterans organizations to talk about healthcare, employment, and educational needs.
After an overview of his office’s responsibilities—recently expanded—and priorities, he took questions form the veterans organizations represented there, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. He was also joined by Claudia Flores, the Northern Regional Director of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, and Caleb Johnson, the regional director for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services veteran and family support program. All three state officials are themselves military veterans.
Many of the questions centered on how to get veterans to the services available to them.
“We’ve all been trained to suck it up and drive on, and we’re very, very bad at asking for help,” Johnson said.
Loudoun County has a full-time veteran services coordinator and offers several services for veterans. Find out about local services for veterans at loudoun.gov/veterans.
Loudoun also has a Department of Veterans Services office in Ashburn, at 44345 Premier Plaza. Find out more at by calling 703-995-9998 or by visiting dvs.virginia.gov/dvs/locations/loudoun-benefits-office.
And in February, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs opened its “Vet Center Community Access Center” at 751 Miller Drive SE in Leesburg, providing mental health services to veterans, active duty military personnel and their families. Appointments at the Vet Center Community Access Center can be made by calling 304-263-6776.
Present during Tuesday’s meeting were state Dels. Wendy W. Gooditis (D-10), John J. Bell (D-87), Jennifer B. Boysko (D-86), Karrie K. Delaney (D-67), and David A. Reid (D-32).
“We have to take care of our veterans just as they’ve taken care of us,” Hopkins said.
Virginia has the highest per capita percentage of veterans in its workforce of all 50 states, and Loudoun is home to a large veteran population. In September, Hopkins’s office’s responsibilities grew with the decision by Governor Ralph Northam to transferring oversight of the Department of Military Affairs from the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs.