Veterans’ Health

Project Title

Maximizing Veterans’ Access to New Health Care Benefits

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Veterans’ Health

Date Awarded

June 9, 2023




In Progress


During their time in service, more than half of all military veterans were likely exposed to toxic chemicals and other airborne hazards, including burn pits with open-air combustion of waste.

Exposure has led to a host of health complications including respiratory illnesses, cancer, other chronic illnesses, and mental health challenges. Responding to veterans’ advocacy efforts, the federal government recently enacted legislation to address these issues. The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 (PACT Act) expands eligibility for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care to any veteran with toxic exposure. A complementary policy allows every veteran, regardless of their previous VA eligibility, to get access to VA or private care for acute suicidal crises. Together, these policies represent one of the largest benefits expansions in VA history. However, many veterans, health care providers, local government officials, and veterans service organizations are unaware of the expansion and/or how to access benefits. In 2023, NYHealth awarded New York Cares a grant to implement complementary training and outreach efforts across New York City to maximize the potential of these new health benefits. 

Under this grant, New York Cares will partner with the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) to refresh its VetCheck program, an award-winning program that trained volunteers to reach nearly 30,000 veterans in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic via phone calls to check on their wellbeing and connect them with resources. New York Cares will recruit a trained volunteer team leader to manage volunteers and logistics. Volunteers will be trained using materials developed by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Additionally, New York Cares will work with New York City DVS to obtain an up-to-date contact list of veterans within the five boroughs and make targeted wellness check-in calls with information about PACT Act eligibility and enrollment services. To evaluate reach, New York Cares will use VetConnectNYC to track referrals for enrollment services.  

NYHealth is also supporting a complementary initiative with a grant to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America