VA facilities across the nation become "Smoke-Free"
Big changes underway at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Starting Tuesday, all of their buildings and campuses across the country are now smoke free.
The VA's main facility for the Pacific Islands is located here in Honolulu. Tripler Hospital is one of the 11 sites of care they have in the region.
The new "No Smoking Rule" covers all VA buildings and there's no designated smoking areas except at "Tripler" because that facility's under the army's rule.
"We need to take responsibility and accountability for our veterans and this is one of those steps saying, we have to step up. We didn't do this correctly in years past so we want to make that positive change now," said Dr. Mary Harlinger with the VA.
Michael Walker who served in Vietnam told KITV he remembers when the military used to hand out cigarettes to soldiers.
"I'm not saying they encouraged us to smoke but they gave us cigarettes to smoke," said Walker.
The VA encourages veterans looking to quit smoking to take advantage of the many services they offer. These don't have copays and include group services, videos on demand and telephone services.
You can call 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838) between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. You can also download Stay Quit Coach, which is the VA’s interactive quit tobacco app.