Kaua‘i Veterans Corner

Congratulations to local U.S. Army veteran John Iwamoto on his special recognition, the 2011 American Living Legacy Award, which was presented during the recent Annual Korean War Reunion Banquet on O‘ahu.

ID Card/CAC Office announces new hours of operation at PMRF – Effective immediately, the office will open from 8:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., Monday to Friday. Questions, call Tita at 335-4235 or Denise at 335-4417.

Women veterans population – As of September 2010, the total population of U.S. veterans was some 23 million, the total population of women veterans was 1.84 million and the total population of women veterans residing in Hawai‘i was 11,634. (Source: Department of Veterans Affairs, VetPop07, at http://www.va.gov/vetdata/)

VA calls women veterans – The VA 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 June 1, representatives at VA’s Health Resource Center began calling 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, visit: www.va.gov/womenvet and www.publichealth.va.gov/womenshealth.

VA’s patient advocate – The VA Pacific Islands Healthcare System is committed to providing professional care and assistance to the nearly 200,000 veterans and their family members within the Pacific Realm. If you have a concern, recommendation, or compliment regarding the care you received, contact the Kaua‘i Patient Advocate Liaison, Charlene Burgess, at 246-0497. If you have further concerns, you may contact the Honolulu Patient Advocate’s Office at (808) 433-0126 and speak with Schoen Safotu, Joanne Strohlin or Sara Davis.

VA Caregiver Support Line – Family members and friends who care for veterans are encouraged to call the VA Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274 to learn about available resources.

VA Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program – Public Law 111-163 signed into law May 5, 2010 provides additional benefits to caregivers of post-9/11 veterans and service members who sustained a serious injury including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma, other mental disorder, or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty. The program provides a caregiver stipend, health care coverage, mental health services and family caregiver benefits to those vets who meet the program’s requirements. Call the Caregiver Support Line to find out more info if your veteran qualifies at 1-855-260-3274.

Recent legislative changes to Post-9/11 GI Bill – Congress recently enhanced these benefits by authorizing the payment of the actual net cost of all public in-state tuition and fees, rather than basing payments upon the highest in-state tuition and fee rates for every state; capping private and foreign tuition at $17,500 per academic year; and ending payments during certain school breaks, to preserve Veterans’ entitlement for future academic semesters. Also, certain students attending private schools in select states can now continue to receive benefits at the same rate payable during the previous academic year. Beginning Oct. 1, eligible individuals will be able to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill for programs such as non-college degrees, on-the-job training, and correspondence courses, and they will be eligible to receive a portion of the national monthly housing allowance rate when enrolled only in distance learning courses. Complete information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill is available at: www.gibill.va.gov, by calling the VA’s education information phone number 1-888-GIBILL-1, or logging into the VA eBenefits website: www.eBenefits.va.gov.

Substance abuse treatment available on Kaua‘i – The Kaua‘i VA Medical Clinic offers substance abuse counseling and treatment to veterans enrolled in the VA Medical Care Program. All services are confidential and group and individual sessions are available. Smoking cessation is also offered. POC: Paul Ochoa, addictions therapist, 246-0497

Tai Chi/Q1 Gong classes – Veterans, learn how to relax, reduce blood pressure and maintain good health by attending Tai Chi classes at the Kaua‘i Vet Center each Thursday from 11 to noon. To sign up, call 246-1163.

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

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