Addressing the Durable Medical Equipment Needs of Afghan Refugees in Virginia

Initiative Description

VATS collaborated with its adult community durable medical equipment (DME) reuse contracted partner, the Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment & Endowment (F.R.E.E.) and the Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), to address the durable medical equipment (DME) needs of Virginians with disabilities and older adults in emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.  F.R.E.E., VDEM and VATS have a MOA in place to address DME access needs during natural disasters.  The MOA is helping to streamline the process of storing/having DME readily available in preparation for and in response to natural disasters. The recent crisis in Afghanistan brought thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing persecution to Virginia military installations for vetting/processing by the Department of Defense and the State Department. The quick departure from their homeland left many refugees without vital mobility equipment to begin a new life in the US.  Representatives from F.R.E.E. and VATS have been regularly participating in VDEM’s Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST) to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery needs among other VEST members.  To date, F.R.E.E. and VATS have collaborated and provided more than 145 pieces of DME to Fort Lee, Fort Pickett and Quantico to support older Afghans and Afghans with disabilities. With 2,800 new Afghans anticipated to arrive at Fort Picket, F.R.E.E. coordinated another large DME equipment delivery with several non-profit and governmental organizations to include the American Red Cross, the Department of Defense, and Gleaning for the World.  VDEM and VEST partner organizations have been meeting bi-weekly to address critical needs, with the recent focus on the needs of Afghans housed at Virginia military installations.  This is positive example of how the state’s AT Act program, in collaboration with non-profits, state agencies and federal government organizations, is helping to improve the quality of life of Virginians with disabilities, as well as our welcomed guests!  

Lessons Learned/Replication

Through this collaboration, VATS and its adult durable medical equipment reuse partner distributed 145 devices to support the Virginia military bases for Afghan guests. The collaboration increased awareness of DME reuse services statewide among emergency management professionals, the State Department, and the Department of Defense.  The partnership was highly successful in getting needed DME to military installations in Virginia.  VATS and its adult DME reuse partner remain in contact with emergency planners and military installations to meet emerging needs.  No external funding was provided for this collaboration/initiative.  

Year of Implementation


AT Activities



Initiative contact information

Barclay Shepard