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Federal Veterans Affairs Secretary visits Cheyenne on tour of Wyoming

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle - 3/1/2024

Mar. 1—CHEYENNE — President Joe Biden's Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, visited Cheyenne'sVA Medical Center Friday morning on his fourth day touring Wyoming to meet with veterans and those who work with them across the state.

"I'm really proud of the team for making sure that our veterans can get access to VA care for primary care and for specialty care," McDonough said at a press conference. "... They're doing that not only here in Cheyenne, but in northern Colorado, and in more rural settings throughout Wyoming, including, famously and very proudly, deploying our mobile units into rural settings in Wyoming, so we can make sure that our care fits into veterans' lives, rather than expecting them to travel long distances to see their doctors."

McDonough also highlighted the importance of acknowledging mental health concerns and risks when it comes to veterans, addressing veterans dealing with mental health issues directly during his statement to the media.

"We're mindful, obviously, the great deal of challenges that we all face ... with mental health ... particularly for veterans," McDonough continued. "So, I want veterans in Wyoming to understand you're not alone when you're confronting those mental health challenges."

He highlighted ways that veterans dealing with mental health issues could get help. First, he said, veterans could get mental health care at a VA hospital, like the Cheyenne center. Second, veterans or their loved ones could call the 988 helpline to talk to a specialist.

McDonough also referenced a newly enacted law as the third option, one that allows veterans, regardless of their enrollment in VA health care, to visit any hospital for mental health treatment on the VA's dime.

McDonough also mentioned meeting with Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday, highlighting Wyoming's interagency partnerships when it comes to working with veterans and their families.

"There are a lot of veterans in Wyoming," he said, "and we're just thrilled about the opportunity to provide care. But, I'm also here because our teams are doing really good work, and I wanted to make sure that they know that I see that, that I'm proud of that.

"Third, we do a really good job here of partnering with our state partners. The governor was very generous to give me some of his time this morning. We had an opportunity to talk to Tim Sheppard, who is the executive director of the Wyoming Commission on Veterans Affairs. (He) has been with us every step of the way on this four-day trip through his great state.

"So, I want to be here because there's a lot of great veterans here. I want to be here because there's a great partnership with the state here, and I want to be here to tell our teammates ... that they're doing awesome."

McDonough concluded by talking about the unique commitment to veterans that he observed across the state.

"What I've seen is a state that gives a lot of its sons and daughters in defense of the country," McDonough said. "... Knowing that Wyoming has given so much of itself to the country, we want to make sure that we at the VA are living up to our obligation to Wyoming, and that's also what I've seen over the course of the last several days."

Samir Knox is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's criminal justice and public safety reporter. He can be reached by email at or by phone at 307-633-3152. Follow him on Twitter at @bySamirKnox.


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