Kaua‘i Veterans Corner

The Department of Veterans Affairs has embarked on a major initiative to reach out to women veterans to solicit their input on ways to enhance their health care services.

Beginning on June 1, representatives at VA’s Health Resource Center began placing calls to women Veterans and their caregivers nationwide asking them to talk candidly about their experiences with the VA, why they are not using VA, if they are aware of the vast gender-specific services offered, and soliciting suggestions on how to enhance their services. Only those women veterans who have enrolled, but have not begun using VA services will be contacted. The HRC representatives making the calls are also quickly connecting veterans with appropriate departments if they are interested in trying VA health care. Veterans who have complaints about VA are connected to a patient advocate who helps resolve issues. VA has trained professionals in all aspects of women’s health, including general primary care, osteoporosis management, heart disease, mental health care, menopausal services and obesity-related issues, such as diabetes. Preventive screenings for breast and cervical cancer are also areas in which VA excels.

Additionally, all VA facilities will soon offer comprehensive primary care for women from a single provider and they have already begun targeted training and education of its staff. Further and to enhance its outreach capability, VA Medical Centers now each employ women Veterans program managers; community-based outpatient clinics employ women’s liaisons; and VA Regional Offices employ women Veterans coordinators. For more information, please visit: www.va.gov/womenvet and www.publichealth.va.gov/womenshealth.

Farewell message

Secretary Robert M. Gates, Department of Defense, to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces:

“It has been a difficult time for you and for your families, from long and repeated deployments for those in all four services — and the associated long separations from loved ones — to the anguish of those of you who have lost friends and family in combat or those of you who have suffered visible and invisible wounds of war yourselves. But your dedication, courage and skill have kept America safe even while bringing the war in Iraq to a successful conclusion and, I believe, at last turning the tide in Afghanistan. Your countrymen owe you their freedom and their security. They sleep safely at night and pursue their dreams during the day because you stand the watch and protect them. For four and a half years, I have signed the orders deploying you, all too often into harm’s way. This has weighed on me every day. I have known about and felt your hardship, your difficulties and sacrifice more than you can possibly imagine. I have felt personally responsible for each of you, and so I have tried to do all I could to provide whatever was needed so you could complete your missions successfully and come home safely — and, if hurt, get the fastest and best care in the world. You are the best that America has to offer. My admiration and affection for you is without limit, and I will think about you and your families and pray for you every day for the rest of my life. God bless you.”

Veterans Affairs Combat Call Center

Located in Lakewood, Colo., open 24/7, 365 day a year the center is available to assist all active duty, reserve, National Guard personnel, all veterans, all family members, and all other concerned citizens. They offer free mental health, bereavement and other related counseling. They liaison with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, when needed, to help veterans in crisis. If you or a loved one needs assistance and don’t know where to turn, please visit www.vetcenters.va.gov or call toll free 877-WAR-VETS.

Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee recently approved a bill (S. 277) which would provide medical care for veterans and their families who served aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., where they were exposed to contaminated water. The bill further states that funding for this proposed medical care come from consolidating the commissary system with the exchange systems, resulting in one military resale system. This funding proposal would seriously damage commissaries and exchanges causing stores to go out of business and leaving military families with no benefit and higher costs. DoD has proposed, several times in the past, to combine exchange systems, but numerous studies have proven that it would not work. It is hoped that Congress will find an alternative funding source for the Act.

VA expands definition of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

The VA recently expanded eligibility for disability compensation due to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for veterans who served in Vietnam’s offshore waters. Under 38 CFR, veterans who served in Vietnam, including service in the waters offshore, are entitled to a presumption of service connection for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If you have NHL or your claim was previously claim you are encouraged to reapply. Contact the KOVS for assistance, 241-3348.

• Tony Elliott, Kaua‘i Office of Veterans’ Services, can be reached at 241-3348.

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