Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) COVID-19 Precautionary Measures and Status of Offices

May 4, 2020

ADVA is following Governor Ivey’s “Safer at Home” Order and has reopened many of its offices to provide customer service to our clients.  However, we are still bound by social distancing rules still in place for Alabama.  ADVA also continues to follow current guidance as provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) specific to COVID-19 prevention in the county veterans service offices, veterans cemetery, administrative areas, and long-term care facilities. We are also following advice from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA), the Alabama Department of Public Health, the White House, and a host of other organizations providing valuable guidance. Considering that guidance, and in the best interest of public health and safety for our clients and employees, the status of ADVA facilities is as follows:

Veterans Service Offices

 Our 51 county-based veterans service offices reopened to the public on Monday, May 4.  Most will provide service to veterans on an appointment-only basis.  Due to the limited space in many of our waiting areas, walk-ins are not allowed until further notice, but we will be glad to set up a face-to-face appointment at your convenience if you will kindly call to set up a time.  Because some of our offices are located in county facilities that are still closed, there may be limited cases when face-to-face meetings are not even permissible, but we will work diligently with you to offer  a means for you to drop off documents or meet at an alternative site. Therefore, we ask that you call your local office to set up an appointment and to handle as much of your individual case as possible by telephone.  In addition, our employees will need to maintain an appropriate social distance from you during face-to-face appointments and may take other precautionary measures when meeting with you, such as wearing a face mask.  This is intended for your protection.  Similarly, we highly encourage you to wear some type of covering over your nose and mouth when visiting our veterans service offices. A complete list of the status of each of our 51 offices is attached to these guidelines.  That list includes the phone number or e-mail you should use to set up an appointment.

State Veterans Homes

The four Alabama state veterans homes (located in Huntsville, Pell City, Alexander City, and Bay Minette) are actively involved with all local, state and federal agencies in coordinated efforts to protect veterans, families and staff from exposure to COVID-19.  Through increased screening, communication and visitation controls, ADVA is actively responding to updated guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to better protect everyone at the state veterans homes.  The homes’ administrators are remaining in close contact with suppliers to ensure needed supplies and materials are available.  The Alabama state veterans homes are taking the following specific precautionary measures to protect both employees and residents:

  • All visitations and work by volunteers were temporarily halted. Additional restrictions were placed on family visits unless for a compassion visit to a terminally ill veteran in their final days
  • All employees as well as other healthcare personnel and family compassion visits must enter through entry checkpoint in which they are screened for symptoms to include sore throat, cough, fever, new shortness of breath, headache, muscle aches, increased malaise, dizziness, diarrhea, conjunctivitis and new loss of taste or smell. Additionally, their temperature is checked and recorded, and they are provided a mask and needed PPE as required.

The facility has and continues to remain in close communication with the staff and families as changes related to COVID-19 occur. This includes notification of positive employees and/or residents in the veterans home. Additionally, the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) communicates regularly through press releases to the media, posts to the ADVA website, media interviews and town hall meetings. Families are able to remain in contact with their loved one by phone calls and video calls such as Facetime or Zoom.

We continue to accept applications to the state veterans homes although we are not receiving new admissions at this time. All applications will be date stamped for review to be placed on the waiting list.

Alabama State Veterans Cemetery

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the best interest of public health and safety, ADVA continues to implement the following policies for interments at the Alabama State Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Spanish Fort:

  • The cemetery will continue to provide casket interments for veterans and eligible family members on request. However, witnessing of those burials, committal services, and the rendering of military funeral honors by military personnel and volunteer veterans service organizations are suspended until further notice.  The cemetery will schedule committal and memorial services for any casket interments at a later date for family members who desire a belated service. Those belated services will have to be scheduled around other future burial events once the current COVID-19 emergency has ended. Scheduling such belated services should be made through the cemetery’s administrative office.
  • Interment of cremated remains will be delayed until memorial services and military funeral honors can be resumed at a later date.

Please note that these new policies largely mirror those of the National Cemetery Administration at its many federal veterans cemeteries.

All current and future interments at the cemetery should be scheduled by phone or facsimile to the cemetery’s administrative office at 251-625-1338, or by FAX at 251-626-9204.

Public visitation to the cemetery remains open at this time. However, all indoor facilities at the cemetery, such as access to the administrative building and restrooms, will remain closed to the public until further notice.  We strongly encourage you to follow social distancing guidelines and take other precautionary measures (such as the wearing of facemasks) when visiting the cemetery.

As the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs follows the emergency guidelines of our state and federal government, the department recognizes the solemn occasion of honoring and laying to rest of a loved one. In these unprecedented and challenging times that our state and nation currently face, the policies followed by the Alabama State Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Spanish Fort are temporary precautions for the health, safety, and well-being of our citizens.

ADVA Headquarters in Montgomery

The ADVA headquarters is open with full manning, and you are welcome to call us at (334) 242-5077 during normal work hours.  However, visits to headquarters are restricted due to social distancing measures.

Appeal and Review Division in Montgomery

ADVA’s Appeal and Review Division is located within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility on Perry Hill Road in Montgomery, which is effectively shut down at the present.  In addition, The Board of Veterans Appeals has canceled hearings until further notice, which is the primary mission of the Appeals and Review Division.  Thus, the ADVA office there will be closed to the public until further notice.

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Should an Alabama veteran have any additional questions or concerns for Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, please call 334-242-5077, or you may email us at: adva@va.alabama.gov.

If you are a veteran who needs emergency assistance, please call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-800-827-1000.


 

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