LVMAC Tidbits — DAV Van Driver Wanted

Wilkes-Barre VA Volunteer Transportation System Seeks Bangor Clinic Driver

The Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council needs the help of the community in finding volunteer drivers for the Northampton County (Bangor) Department of Veterans (VA) Affairs Outpatient Clinic.  The use of this free transportation service, manned by volunteers, for medical appointments at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center is important to the care of veterans in the upper Northampton County area.

Leonard Croop, the Hospital Service Coordinator for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) at Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center, is seeking at least one driver to continue the van service begun in 2007.  Otherwise, the service must cease. (more…)

LVMAC News — Larry Holm..an Speaks Out

President of Vietnam Veterans of America’s State Council Addresses the Council

Larry Holman, the President of the State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, spoke to the Council at its 21 March business meeting on the topic of the “Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) — Not Forgetting Its or the Next Generations.”

First, he explained its origins. VVA came into being because existing veterans organizations at the time were not always welcoming to returning Vietnam veterans – many felt rejected.  However, it did not really get started as an organization until the late 1970’s, early 1980’s.  It realized there was strength in numbers. Out of their own experiences, came its founding principle and its motto:  “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” More on its history can be found on its website.

Mr. Holman stated VVA is an active organization and an outspoken advocate for the current generation of war veterans.  There is good reason.  There are concerns over hazardous exposures, let alone trauma injuries. (more…)

LVMAC News — TRICARE in the Lehigh Valley

MR. TERRY GOODYEAR EXPLAINS THE TRICARE PROGRAM

Mr. Terry Goodyear, Educational Specialist for HealthNet Federal Services LLC, which manages the TRICARE North contract serving our region, spoke to the Council on 15 February at its business meeting on the subject of TRICARE and the options available.

TRICARE brings together the health care resources of the Military Health System—such as military treatment facilities (MTFs) —with a network of civilian health care professionals, institutions, pharmacies, and suppliers.  It is a worldwide system managed regionally. (more…)

LVMAC Tidbits — PTSD Help for Families

Veterans and Families’ Guide to Recovering from PTSD is Now Available

We thank the author, Stephanie Laite Lanham, PMH-NP, for granting us permission to publish the 6th edition of this booklet. “The Guide”, as it has come to be called by many, was very well received when nationally distributed for several years by the Military Order of Purple Heart (MOPH) to the Vet Centers in all 50 states. The Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council (LVMAC) believes it has found a new life for the Veterans and Families’ Guide for Recovering from PTSD.  It has been in the process of distributing it over the last two months. (more…)

LVMAC News — DiLuzio Says Homeless Veterans Are Not on Radar of Public

MR. DiLUZIO OF LVMAC SPEAKS OUT ON VETERANS HOMELESSNESS

 Mr. Pat DiLuzio, Executive Director of Victory House, the area’s only VA recognized homelessness shelter and the new Homelessness Subcommittee Chairman for our Veterans Affairs Committee, addressed the Council at its 18 January 2012 meeting on the subject of homelessness and the plight of our veterans who are a significant proportion of that problem.

He started off with, “Close your eyes and when you think of a homeless person – what comes to mind or what do you see?  Someone sitting on a heating grate; someone with a cup on corner of a busy street asking for food or dollars; children and families; someone in line at a soup kitchen; sadness and sorrow?  These were some of the common answers I’ve heard people who were questioned about homelessness in United States.

“Others were asked, why do you think homelessness exists and what are the causes?  The responses varied, but the top causes in the eyes of the respondents were: alcohol and drug addictions; family break-ups including abusive behavior/family dysfunctions; and physical and mental disabilities.

“But what is really interesting is that when people thought about what came to mind when they [the public] thought about homelessness, no one mentioned the homeless veteran.” (more…)

LVMAC News

CLYDE HOCH SPEAKS TO THE COUNCIL

Clyde Hoch, author of Tracks – Memoirs of a Vietnam Veteran, spoke to the Council on his service in the Marine Corps, his remembrances of war and his return home.

First off, he expressed his appreciation to the Council for their concern for veterans as he thinks too often veterans “are tossed aside” once they have played their role in the defense of the nation.

Now in his sixties, he believes he has a story to tell – as many other veterans do also – which can help the young understand that sometimes great sacrifices are made on their behalf, that millions of men and women before them have left their loving families to do whatever is necessary to protect our way of life. Nor does it matter they ultimately served as cooks or infantry, for the deed was in the willingness to sacrifice for others even when those “others” often little understood or cared for the service members during the Vietnam era. (more…)

LVMAC Tidbits

Our VA Network is About to Conduct a Special Veterans’ Family and War Study

VISN-4’s  (the next higher organization to our Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center) Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC)  in Philadelphia is conducting a funded study to understand how war-related psychiatric symptoms may interfere with family reintegration and functioning.   The obvious is not apparent to them.  Nevertheless, there are benefits to such a study.  The means to improving care in the VA is most often  lead through documented study.  The VA has been known to be  loath to move without one.   The benefit we see?  … another step towards a more family-oriented VA.   Therefore, you can help by participating. (more…)

LVMAC News — Swinfard Talks on Downstream Effects of War

SWINFARD ADDRESSES COUNCIL

Dr. Ronald W. Swinfard, M.D., President and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Health Network (LHVN) spoke to the Council at its business meeting on 19 October.  During the Vietnam War, he served in the Medical Service Corps as a Battalion Surgeon (a lieutenant position)  of an Aid Station (a platoon equivalent organization) in 195th  Brigade of the Americal Division (23rd Infantry Division), circa 1970.  After a short stint as a high school teacher, upon return from service and decommissioning, he embarked on a career as a doctor, first training in internal medicine and later dermatology as a specialty.  In 2003, Swinfard was hired by the Lehigh Valley Health Network as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) after serving at fifteen years at the Harry S. Truman VA Medical Center in Columbia, Missouri, eventually rising to the position of Section Chief for Dermatology.  He was also a key figure in the University of Missouri Hospital – Columbia.  In November of 2010, he was selected for his current position.  He stated that he is ever mindful of the sacrifice of others who gave their lives and because of them, believes we should celebrate our lives and make them useful in the service of others.

In his talk, “The Downstream Health Effects of War,” he observed that few doctors are veterans and hence a learning curve is often required when it comes to their care.  He noted that that LHVN sees a lot of veterans in their Emergency Rooms; and that while the organization has done some work with the local VA Clinic, it intends to do more on the behalf of our local veterans. (more…)

LVMAC News — Keystone Wounded Warriors Introduce Themselves

Council Speaker:  On 21 September 2011, Captain Samuel Johnson, USMC – who is assigned as an Instructor-Inspector to the newly relocated 150 personnel Battery I, 3-14 Regiment of Artillery (155 mm) which closed on the Lehigh Valley’s Navy-Marine Corps Reserve Center from Reading on 15 September – spoke to the Council on the origins and initiatives of the Keystone Wounded Warriors, a new nonprofit, charitable 501(c)(3) organization incorporated  in October of 2010 and just beginning to operate in the Lehigh Valley. (more…)

LVMAC Tidbits

Understanding Travel Reimbursement for VHA Health Care

We have had a number of inquiries regarding VA travel reimbursement.  The information sheet provided below should answer most questions.

1.  PURPOSE:    To explain travel reimbursement for VHA health care as it applies to veterans and their families.

2.  ELIGIBILTY FOR TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT*: (more…)