Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, veterans may have questions about how to stay safe while accessing important health benefits and services. Read on for answers and resources related to accessing VA health care resources, along with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for how veterans can protect themselves during this time.

Take extra health and safety precautions

To protect yourself from the fast-spreading coronavirus, be sure to follow all state and federal guidelines. The CDC advises staying home, limiting contact with other people and adopting social distancing measures such as keeping a 6-foot distance between yourself and others. You should wash your hands frequently and can wear a protective face covering when out in public. Now is also a good time to thoroughly clean and disinfect your home, focusing on high-touch areas.

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.""The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."

Request that prescription refills be mailed to you

Having medication mailed to you will limit the amount of exposure you would otherwise experience by visiting a pharmacy in person.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, if you currently receive your VA prescription refills by mail, your deliveries will continue. Otherwise, you may request that a refill is sent to you by mail. To do so, you will first need to confirm that the mailing address in your profile is accurate.

Next, you can request your refill using either the RX Refill app from a mobile device, the MyHealtheVet prescription tracker online or the VA pharmacy phone number printed on your prescription label. You may also complete and mail the prescription refill form included with your prescription to request a refill.

The VA has updated refill policies so that in-person refill evaluations can be conducted through telehealth appointments. If you run out of medication or need assistance refilling your prescription, you can use the secure messaging service to connect with your provider or call your local VA facility.

Choose telehealth services for non-emergency VA health appointments

Health care facilities around the nation may have limited in-person availability to non-COVID-19 patients. Consider using telehealth services to attend to your routine health needs. Virtual appointments mean you won't need to visit a hospital or health care center for non-emergency health matters.

If you have a routine appointment or a doctor's visit scheduled for a non-urgent health matter, you have a few options. The Department of Veterans Affairs advises either canceling or rescheduling non-urgent appointments, including elective procedures, to a date farther in the future. Alternatively, you can keep your appointment but conduct it in a telehealth format over the phone or a video meeting portal, such as VA Video Connect.

To contact your provider and book a telehealth appointment, the VA recommends using the My HealtheVet secure messaging portal or the VA appointment scheduling tool. If your care facility participates, you may be able to use the VA Health Chat app as well. Keep in mind that only some health services can be conducted over a phone or video appointment. Check your local VA health facility's website for the latest information and to learn more about your options.

If you have a standing appointment or service scheduled with a community (non-VA) health care provider, contact them directly to see if you can reschedule or conduct the appointment virtually. Referrals to community care facilities are still being issued, with an emphasis on referrals for those in urgent need. The VA has noted that referral eligibility requirements remain unchanged.

Prioritize your mental, physical and emotional well-being

Take the time to prioritize all aspects of your personal wellbeing. Unless you are sick, the CDC suggests taking a walk in a local park and exercising at home. Virtually check in on loved ones and work on staying connected, even if from a distance.

Reach out for help if you need it, by contacting a trusted friend or family member or through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Disaster Distress Helpline, at 1-800-985-5990 or via SMS by texting "TalkWithUs" to 66746.