Veterans Canteen Service (VCS)
Giving Back to the VA Community
VCS is proud to be a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. We are a self-sustaining entity providing merchandise and services to Veterans enrolled in VA’s Health Care system, their families, caregivers, VA employees, volunteers and visitors. We are honored to “give back” to the VA through many programs established for the health and well-being of our nation’s heroes. Revenues generated from VCS are used to support a variety of programs such as: VA’s Rehabilitation Games, Fisher Houses, Poly-Trauma Centers for OIF/OEF/OND Veterans, disaster relief efforts, Substance Abuse Cessation, VA’s Homelessness initiatives, Women Veterans, Veteran Suicide Prevention and other activities.
National Rehabilitation Games:
Sponsors of all 6 VA’s National Rehabilitation Games (Winter Sports Clinic, Golden Age Games, Wheelchair Games, TEE Tournament, Summer Sports Clinic and Creative Arts Festival). These programs allow disabled Veterans of all ages and abilities to participate in adpative sport programs and special events. VCS provides monetary donations, sends a support team to each event and hands out goodie bags to Veteran participants. VCS proudly supports the Games as they promote wellness, rehabilitation, and camaraderie among the Veteran athletes.
Supports VA Fisher Houses across the country by providing coupons to first-time visiting families and being their purchasing source for supplies and necessities.
Reducing/Eliminating Veteran Homelessness:
Ending Veteran homelessness is a top priority and VCS supports this VA initiative through our partnership. Our partnership began in 2011 to provide a free meal to Veterans at their first appointment at a VA Medical Center and to give $20 in coupons to each Veteran placed into housing through HUD-VASH Program. In 2014, the initiative grew as the need for beds and household supplies became crucial for Veterans moving off the street into a new home. VCS partnered with Serta to provide queen size beds and partnered with Veteran Owned Lodging Kit to provide move-in kits containing bed/bath/kitchen supplies.
Prevention of suicide begins with a simple act of support. Everyone can play a role in preventing suicide. VCS partnered with the Office of Mental Health & Suicide Prevention to help disseminate training and communications to all VA employees, VA volunteers, caretakers and other stakeholders and partners. VCS support several marketing and communication tools to the 5 million customers who visit us each month. In addition, we suport face-to-face training for all employees that gives them the knowledge and skill to identify when a Veteran could be at risk for suicide or a life crisis.
VCS partners with the Center for Women Veterans to provide tools and resources for health services, education benefits, employment, support groups, special events and much more. With our support, the group has been able to feature Women Veteran artists through a traveling exhibit across the country; as well as, just recently fetauring Women Veteran athletes. In May 2018, the Center for Women Veterans will host their first annual National Baby Shower for soon-to-be Veteran mothers.
Supports OIF/OEF/OND Veterans by providing assistance to Poly-Trauma Centers and providing coupons for VCS purchases.
The VA/VCS Emergency Mobile Food Unit provides support for Department of Veterans Affairs response teams deployed under emergency conditions. These units will be strategically located around the country and available to emergency areas to provide food support and other food services to staff and patients.
One of VA/VHA’s major initiatives is to ensure preparedness to meet emergent national needs, and the VCS is proud to support this initiative and currently has four mobile food units ready to deploy for any emergency that would arise.
Sustainability (“Going Green”):
Part of our vision is to be an environmentally friendly organization, and we have made several changes to our internal business processes and practices to become more sustainable. We have implemented the following “going green” initiatives:
- Selling reusable shopping bags in our stores
- Using retail plastic bags made from recycled product
- Using paper coffee cups made from recycled product
- Using napkins made from recycled product
- Selling energy efficient light bulbs in our stores
- Recycling used cooking oil in our cafes
- Trash compactors to reduce labor and save plastic trash bags from entering waste streams and landfills