The Focus of the VA

The VA is dedicated to not only providing the care that veterans need today, but also what they will need in the future.

See more videos with Dr. McNamee.

The VA is a generationally-associated healthcare system, [Shane McNamee--Virginia Commonwealth Medical Center] so you've got large groups of individuals that move through the VA and then they go through. There are very few World War II vets left. You still see them in the hospital at times. The Korean war vets are getting fewer and fewer. The Vietnam era is getting older, and their numbers are starting to shrink in the VA. Then we look at our latest generation--the OEF, OIF, now OND-- Operation New Dawn--we're in now. How do we pull these folks through and make sure that their healthcare is there? How do we prioritize care for--obviously still taking care of the chronic Vietnam population who need dialysis units and ICUs and long-term care facilities versus a younger population who have got combat stress syndromes and cognitive issues from traumatic brain injury and pain. Again, I can tell you that there are constant planning sessions in terms of-- How do we focus forward? How do we-- How are we going to take care of individuals who have had severe penetrating head injuries and who are in a mother's home? What happens when mom gets old? How do we get that individual back? We look at different pilot programs across the country that have been started--the Assisted Living Pilot Program for Traumatic Brain Injury-- to try to get people in communities back where they're from without having to rely on loved ones for their day-to-day activities, healthcare and supports. So it's a constant balance in the VA from a resource perspective. I can tell you--just having been in a lot of the meetings--that there's a huge dedication to make sure that we're not just doing what's necessary today but-- as we focus down into the future as resources change and shift and shrink and grow-- how do we continue to meet the needs of the population? I, for one, think it's incredibly important that the VA continues to exist to be able to support folks who have sacrificed quite a bit in the service of their country, because they need a place to go where they're-- they have people like them, that people hopefully can understand the culture that they came from and the issues that they carry forward with them and help support them. So, I'm going to be with the VA for a long time, I know that. And I know that there's a lot of us who are going to continue to advocate-- from inside the VA--as strongly as we can for this population.
Posted on BrainLine September 28, 2012.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.