VA Medical Center library offers many resources

* Erie VA Medical Center news: The new parking garage is now able to be used. The official opening ribbon cutting will be held Wednesday, Aug. 24. The vale parking will still be available for veterans. Please take notice of the parking signs and the traffic directions.

* Erie VA Medical Center Library: Did you know that the Erie VAMC has a library just for you? The library is located in the basement room 005. It is open Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Veterans, their families and employees are welcome to explore the library. What you will find in the library is high quality and current health information. It also offers free lending of popular spy novels, westerns and classics, a newspaper reading room complete with the Erie Times News, New York Times, Army Times and Military newspapers. The professional librarian is available to help you find high-quality health information for veterans and their families. There also are more than 500 free books. For more information, contact Karla C. Kaufman at (814) 860-2442.

* VA Adds New Women’s Chat Service: The VA’s Women Veterans Call Center is expanding its outreach to women veterans with a new online, one-to-one chat function. The new service enables women veterans to go online and anonymously chat via real-time text messaging with trained representatives, all of whom are women and many of whom are veterans themselves. The new chat feature, which is open extended hours Mondays through Saturdays, provides another avenue for women veterans to ask general questions about benefits, eligibility and services specifically related to them. Learn more at:

* Help with Health Care Billing Issues: VA has established a toll-free phone number for veterans to call if private sector health care providers have improperly billed them for care that VA is required to pay. The VFW urges any veteran being pursued by collection agencies to seek VA’s assistance. VA will help you resolve adverse credit reporting and debt collection issues. Veterans who believe they have been incorrectly billed for their care should also call the billing call center to determine if VA is liable for the cost of the care. For assistance, call (877) 881-7618 and press 1, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Expanding Online Exchange Shopping Access: Military Times is reporting that the Defense Department’s Executive Resale Board is recommending that all honorably discharged veterans be authorized to shop online through military exchange store websites. The VFW-supported idea was first pitched two years ago by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service as a way to increase donations to respective service morale, welfare and recreation programs, as well as to thank the great majority of honorably discharged veterans who do not make the military a career. If approved, the new benefit would apply to online shopping only, not at traditional brick-and-mortar stores where access will remain restricted to military ID card carrying service members, retirees, 100 percent disabled veterans, and their eligible family members.

* MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of one soldier and two sailors who had been missing in action from the Korean War and World War II. Returned are: *Army Pvt. Virgil B. Adkins, of Summers, W.Va., who is scheduled to be buried with full military honors on Sept. 3 in Hinton, W.Va. On July 17, 1953, Adkins was reported missing after his patrol came under attack north of the former Demilitarized Zone in North Korea. He was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. *Navy Fireman 1st Class Jim H. Johnston and Seaman 1st Class Murry R. Cargile, were both stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941, when the battleship suffered multiple torpedo hits and capsized as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During salvage efforts, a large number of remains representing as many as 400 individuals were recovered and buried as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. The remains were exhumed in 2015, and due to advances in forensics technology, both Johnston and Cargile were identified. Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.