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Rubio, Nelson Urge VA Secretary to Mobilize Services for Veterans Impacted by Hurricane Michael
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) urged Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert Wilkie to authorize increased outreach efforts and benefits assistance for Florida veterans impacted by Hurricane Michael. The letter also thanks the Secretary for actions the VA has already taken, including activation of the Pharmacy Disaster Relief Plan, which ensures that veterans have access to an emergency supply of medication after the storm. Yesterday, Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach as a powerful category 4 storm.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Secretary Wilkie:
As Florida’s panhandle begins the response and recovery process following major Hurricane Michael, we respectfully request you to direct your department to do everything in its power to ensure our affected veterans are taken care of in the aftermath of this catastrophic storm. Florida is home to more than 1.5 million veterans, many of whom are over the age of 65 and rely on VA programs and facilities in their day-to-day lives. Recognizing the magnitude of this storm, we urge you to authorize increased outreach efforts and benefits assistance, to the maximum extent possible, for impacted veterans.
Having these programs and facilities available will be vital to ensuring the health and safety of our veterans, and we support the VA’s discretion in continuing operations at various medical centers and outpatient clinics. We also write to express gratitude for measures the VA has already implemented to provide increased flexibility for veterans impacted by the storm, such as the Pharmacy Disaster Relief Plan.
As you begin to assess the damage sustained to Veterans Health System facilities in the Florida panhandle, we also urge the department to deploy VA Mobile Facilities to assist veterans in areas where clinics remained closed. We stand ready to assist the department, and look forward to working together to provide veterans affected by Hurricane Michael with needed relief to recover from this disaster.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Timeline of Rubio Actions related to Hurricane Michael:
- On Thursday, FEMA Administrator Brock Long briefed Rubio on damage caused by Hurricane Michael.
- On Wednesday, ahead of Hurricane Michael’s landfall, Rubio urged Attorney General Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig to assist communities affected by the storm.
- On Wednesday, following Hurricane Michael’s landfall, Rubio urged President Donald Trump to approve Florida’s request for a major disaster declaration. Today, the President approved the State of Florida’s major disaster declaration.
- On October 9, 2018, Rubio joined Senator Nelson and Florida Representatives in urging President Trump to approve Florida Governor Rick Scott’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration ahead of Hurricane Michael.