WASHINGTON – Since 1982, the VA has had a fourth mission that reaches beyond providing healthcare, benefits, and burial of veterans to providing emergency support to the nation’s healthcare system. That mission has come to the fore with novel coronavirus stressing a growing number of hospitals around the country.

On March 29, the VA hospitals in Manhattan and Brooklyn stepped up to reduce the burden on civilian hospitals in hard-hit New York City. Between them, the VA facilities were expected to free up 50 beds to be used for non-COVID-19 patients.

Three days later, the VA New Jersey Health Care System East Orange campus opened 20 beds to non-veteran, non-coronavirus patients.

“VA is proud to assist the state of New Jersey in the fight against this pandemic while continuing its primary mission of caring for our nation’s veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. 

States can request VA support through the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s National Response Coordination Center. More states are expected to call on the VA for assistance during the pandemic, as new “hot spots” arise around the country.