Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said over the weekend that a full-time Vet Center counselor will soon be assigned to the Marianas.
Sablan disclosed in his e-kilili newsletter that Dr. Steven Lieberman, acting Veterans Affairs Health Undersecretary, briefed him on the VA’s plans to assign a full-time Vet Center counselor to the Commonwealth.
Currently, Guam Vet Center staff periodically visit the islands to meet veterans.
Sablan’s legislation, signed into law last October, mandated VA to report on its plans to provide these services in the Marianas and other areas that have no Vet Center.
“This position has been a long time coming; but Marianas veterans will have a counselor right here at home to help them and their families readjust to civilian life and provide mental health services,” he said.
Sablan’s bill expands Vet Center services—specifically, readjustment counseling and other mental health care—which underscores the need for the Department of Veterans Affairs to explain how they will make sure Marianas veterans are treated equally.
Meanwhile, Sablan said U.S. Congress provided Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer benefits to the Marianas in the continuing resolution last October.
He said families with children in school or in childcare can receive P-EBT food aid covering summer 2021, following the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service’s approval of the Commonwealth’s plan.
The delegate said this follows Food and Nutrition Service’s approval in April of Commonwealth’s plan to provide P-EBT benefits through June 2021.
He said P-EBT helps pay the cost of meals that students would have received if they had been attending school in-person.
The Nutrition Assistance Program of the CNMI Department of Community & Culture Affairs began distributing P-EBT benefits on Saipan last Aug. 10.
NAP administrator Walter Macaranas announced Friday the release starting Nov. 13, 2021, of the Summer P-EBT, which is an extension of P-EBT for school year 2020-21.
P-EBT is a federal program that provides NAP benefits to school-aged children who lost access to school meals because their school was closed or operating with reduced in-person attendance due to COVID-19 covering for school year 2020-21.