(CNN)The Department of Veterans Affairs is readying thousands of emergency personnel to be deployed to help reinforce the national response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie. “They know that they can be deployed anywhere in the country. Just like the reserves, their physicals are up to date, their shots are up to date. That prepares them to launch when called upon,” Wilkie told Politico in an interview Thursday. While the VA provides healthcare services to veterans, the agency can also serve as an emergency backup health care resource for civilians in crisis situations. Hospital systems in the US could be overwhelmed by an influx of patients if the spread of the virus doesn’t slow. Wilkie told Politico that the department is planning out where they might be needed most. Asked if there is a current timeframe in play, Wilkie said, “We haven’t come to that point yet.”The VA would deploy “doctors, nurses, psychologists, engineers, nutritionists, police,” and provide resources including a mobile hospital, medical vans, and mobile pharmacies, Wilkie told Politico.During a White House briefing Wednesday, Wilkie said the VA started preparing for the epidemic “aggressively early,” by stockpiling equipment, and begun “gaming out emergency


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