There are approximately 400,000 veterans in the state of South Carolina and more than 92,000 reside in the First District. Safeguarding the benefits they have earned is a priority. Veterans' benefits encompass an array of services which include health care and disability, education and training, guarantee of home loans, dependents' and survivors' benefits, and much more. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the most integrated health care system in America and would be an exemplary model for our entire health care system to follow. We are fortunate to have the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston; VA outpatient clinics in Goose Creek, North Charleston and Myrtle Beach and a Post-Conflict Care Center in North Charleston to help those veterans transitioning from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, has outlined three top priorities for the VA this year: improving access using the latest technology to process education benefits; reducing backlog by enhancing the procedures used to process the claims of veterans with service connected disabilities; and ending veteran homelessness by implementing intervention programs which include funding spouses and children at risk of becoming homeless.
As we move through challenging fiscal times, we must ensure adequate funding so that the benefits for our veterans are not compromised. They have paid a big price by defending our freedom, and we must protect what has been promised to them. Contact information for VA facilities and service centers in the First District are listed below.