Senator Phillips-Hill E-Newsletter

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If you know a Veteran, please forward this issue to him or her as it provides important updates, resources, and information.

In this Update:

  • Trees for Troops
  • How One Leash Can Save Two Lives
  • Staying in Touch with Friends, Family and Yourself
  • York County Celebrating Veterans Day
  • What You Earned – VA Benefits
  • National Wreaths Across America Day
  • What are Vet Centers?
  • Who is Eligible to Receive Services at Vet Centers?
  • Contacting Your Local Vet Center

Trees for Troops  

Last week I joined Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary, Russell Redding, Brig. Gen. Laura McHugh, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Deputy Adjutant General-Army, and Strathmeyer Christmas Trees to kick off Trees for Troops weekend in York.

Their dedication to the Trees for Troops program has not only adorned the homes of our military personnel with festive spirit but has also served as a tangible token of appreciation for their selfless service.

The Trees for Troops program provides free, farm-grown Christmas trees to members of the military and their families through donations, sponsorships, grants, and the work of many volunteers.

Thank you to all involved in this program who bring that familiar pine scent to those who cannot be home this holiday. You can find out more about this program here and find a video of the event here.

How One Leash Can Save Two Lives

Leashes of Valor (LOV) is a nonprofit organization that supports Veterans by pairing them with service dogs from local shelters. LOV provides psychiatric service dogs at no cost to post-9/11 Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other “unseen” wounds of military service.

The organization is in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and its new facility – called Axel’s Place in honor of the service dog who inspired the organization – is currently undergoing renovations as it prepares to host its first group of Veterans in the coming months. The 2,900-square-foot property is nestled on 10 secluded acres within a short drive of shopping centers, restaurants, and other businesses where Veterans, typically in groups of two to four, will get real-life training with their service dogs.

Veterans who receive service dogs through LOV’s program spend seven days living and training with the dogs at the facility, all at no cost to Veterans.

Staying in Touch with Friends, Family and Yourself

It’s easy to get caught up in everyday life and put yourself last, especially around the holidays.

As member of the military, you were trained to put others’ needs ahead of your own, and that doesn’t end when you leave active service.

But remember that when you were in the military, you were part of something bigger than yourself, and to accomplish a mission meant relying on others.

Now that you’re a Veteran, that hasn’t changed. Everyone faces struggles in life, and no one can get through them alone. It’s okay to ask for help.

To stay mentally and physically healthy, you can’t wait until everything piles up. You can’t wait for a crisis to happen. You must reach out for support when you need it.

If you or the Veterans in your life need support, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers many resources to help, and you don’t have to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to use any of them. Learn more about those resources here.

It can be hard to ask for help, but you aren’t alone and don’t have to carry the weight on your own. The Veterans Crisis Line is a call, chat or text away, and it can help with whatever you’re going through: Dial 988 then Press 1, chat at, or text 838255.

The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs offers several resources to support community partners connecting Veterans in crisis to the best possible resources to help them live a safe, healthy, quality life.

But the VA isn’t the only place to reach out for help. You can also reach out for help at one of your local churches or a Veterans service organization.

By staying in touch with the people you care about – including yourself – you can find the hope and support you deserve.

York County Celebrating Veterans Day

Veterans were honored across York County last month in celebration of Veterans Day. It was great to be able to join several events honoring those who have served our nation.

I was able to interview United States Navy WWII Veteran Harold ‘Sandy’ Harper at the New Freedom Recreation Council Veterans Day Dinner. Sandy said he signed up for the Navy because “his country needed him.” Thank you, Mr. Harper. We are the grateful beneficiaries of your service! You can find more photos of this event here.

The York County Department of Veteran Affairs held its annual celebration where I was able to present a Senate Citation commemorating U.S. Army Veteran Jeff Hines on receiving the George H. Eyler Meritorious Service Award. In the words of keynote speaker Major General Kurt Ryan (USA-Ret), “the Veteran is the glue that holds us together as a nation.” You can find more photos from this event here.

I was honored to share the gratitude of our community with our Veterans at the Dallastown American Legion. You can find more photos from this event here.

We are America the free because of the brave – those who have served in times of peace and conflict, those who have left their homes to defend ours, and those who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the principles that make our nation a beacon of hope.

Again, we can never say thank you enough to the brave women and men who served our country. We are incredibly grateful for your service and your sacrifice.

What You Earned – VA Benefits

The VA’s “What You Earned” campaign focuses on educating Veterans and their families about some of the most tangible, cost-saving benefits of using the VA, including low-cost or no-cost health care, debt-free education, $0 down payments on home loans, no-cost memorial services and burials and more.

The campaign uses actual cost comparisons to demonstrate Veterans’ savings with the VA vs. without the VA, with the goal of encouraging Veterans who are not enrolled in VA health care or receiving VA benefits to apply for the first time.

Learn more about the VA here, and apply for health care here and your earned benefits here.

If you need help navigating the benefits process, the American Legion offers accredited American Legion service officers who are specially trained to provide expert assistance, free of charge, to Veterans and their families. While most of a service officer’s work involves application for VA disability benefits, these compassionate professionals also provide information, referrals and resources on education, employment and business, death benefits and other important topics. Click here for more information about finding a service officer.

National Wreaths Across America Day

This year, National Wreaths Across America Day will be held on Saturday, Dec. 16.

Join the more than two million volunteers and supporters who will gather to remember, honor and teach at more than 4,000 participating locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.

Learn more about the mission here.

What are Vet Centers?

VA Vet centers provide free and confidential readjustment counseling for war-zone Veterans and their families, from World War II to the current Global War on Terror.

Vet centers are small, non-medical, counseling centers conveniently located in our region. They’re staffed by highly trained counselors and team members dedicated to seeing you through the challenges that come with managing life during and after the military.

Whether you come in for one-on-one counseling or to participate in a group session, at Vet centers you can form social connections, try new things and build a support system with people who understand you and want to help you succeed.

Who is Eligible to Receive Services at Vet Centers?

Vet center services are available to Veterans at no cost, regardless of discharge character, and without the need to be enrolled in VA health care or having a service-connected disability. If you are a Veteran or service member, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, you can access Vet center services if you:

  • Served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility.
  • Experienced military sexual trauma (regardless of gender or service era).
  • Provided mortuary services or direct emergent medical care to treat the casualties of war while serving on active military duty.
  • Performed as a member of an unmanned aerial vehicle crew that provided direct support to operations in a combat theater or area of hostility.
  • Accessed care at a Vet Center prior to Jan. 2, 2013 as a Vietnam-era Veteran.
  • Served on active military duty in response to a national emergency or major disaster declared by the president, or under orders of the governor or chief executive of a state in response to a disaster or civil disorder in that state.
  • Are a current or former member of the Coast Guard who participated in a drug interdiction operation, regardless of the location.

Contacting Your Local Vet Center

Even if you are unsure if you meet the criteria to receive services from a Vet center, please contact a center.

Center services are also available to family members when their participation would support the growth and goals of the Veteran or active-duty service member. If you consider them family, so does your local center. Bereavement services are also available to family members of Veterans who were receiving Vet center services at the time of the Veteran’s death, and to the families of service members who died while serving on active duty.

Vet center locations in Pennsylvania are:

  • Bucks County Vet Center, 2 Canals End Road, Suite 201B, Bristol, PA 19007, 215-823-4590
  • DuBois Vet Center, 100 Meadow Lane, Suite 8, DuBois, PA 15801, 814-372-2095
  • Erie Vet Center, 240 West 11th Street, Suite 105, Erie, PA 16501, 814-453-7955
  • Harrisburg Vet Center, 1500 N. Second Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102, 717-782-3954
  • Lancaster Vet Center, 1817 Olde Homestead Lane, Suite 207, Lancaster, PA 17601, 717283-0735
  • Norristown Vet Center, 320 East Johnson Highway, Suite 201, Norristown, PA 19401, 215-823-5245
  • City Center Philadelphia Vet Center, 801 Arch Street, Suite 502, Philadelphia, PA 19107, 215-627-0238
  • Northeast Philadelphia Vet Center, 101 East Olney Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19120, 215-924-4670
  • Pittsburgh Vet Center, 2500 Baldwick Road, Suite 15, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, 412-920-1765
  • Scranton Vet Center, 1002 Pittston Avenue, Scranton, PA 18505, 570-344-2676
  • White Oak Vet Center, 2001 Lincoln Way, Suite 280, White Oak, PA 15131, 412-678-7704
  • Williamsport Vet Center, 49 East Fourth Street, Suite 104, Williamsport, PA 17701, 570-327-5281

For more information, please visit

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