Veterans Corner: VA developing a National Women Veterans Oncology System of Excellence

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    By Raymond Taylor
    PREVIEW Columnist

    In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced recently it is developing a National Women Veterans Oncology System of Excellence through research, partnerships, precision oncology and teleoncology that will provide women veteran oncology patients with cutting-edge care and access to potentially lifesaving clinical trials.

    Through the National Women Veterans Oncology System of Excellence and current partnerships with The National Cancer Institute, academic medical centers and others, the VA is uniquely situated to provide care via teleoncology and decentralized clinical trials to women veterans nationwide.

    “Each year, an estimated 700 women veterans enrolled in VA health care are diagnosed with breast cancer — calculating to one in eight women diagnosed within their lifetime,” said Acting VA Deputy Secretary Pamela Powers. “VA’s continued work with partnerships, research and innovations are leading to faster cures and better outcomes. Our veterans deserve no less.”

    Partnerships with medical and research universities will help advance and expand the VA’s teleoncology and other services to provide the best cancer care and treatment options to women veterans across the nation.

    As part of this effort, the VA is seeking to partner with more oncology medical and research organizations and universities that deliver world-class care and research. For information on becoming a VA partner, contact Cancer@VA.gov. 

    National Suicide Hotline, mental health care acts signed into law

    Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie released the following statement after President Donald Trump signed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act: “People in distress and in need of timely care should face the fewest obstacles possible to get help. The bill President Trump signed today will soon make it easier for those at risk to be quickly connected to a trained responder and will help save lives.”

    Currently, anyone in need of timely crisis suicide prevention resources can reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by dialing (800) 273-8255. Veterans who call that number can press 1 to be connected to the Veterans Crisis Line.

    During the transition to 988, Americans who need help should continue to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling (800) 273-8255 [(800)-273-TALK] and through online chats. Veterans and service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net or texting 838255.

    Wilkie released the following statement after Trump signed the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, into law: “This legislation moves America closer to a goal that all citizens can support: increasing the local resources available to our men and women who answered the call to defend this nation. This law will expand mental health care services at VA facilities and at the same time provide grants to make it easier for veterans to access non-VA resources in their communities. 

    “Care in the community is a critical component of our effort to end veteran suicide. About 60 percent of the Veterans who die by suicide aren’t getting care from VA, so it’s vital we do all we can to offer intervention and care to veterans where they live. This bill takes a strong and meaningful step in that direction,” Wilkie stated.

    Vets4Vets grant

    Vets4Vets has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is to support veterans in our community through the following assistance: housing, utilities, mental health counseling, dental services, travel assistance, automobile repairs, gas and food cards, and emergency veteran assistance. 

    Contact Vets4Vets at 799-VETS or www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

    Contact information

    Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.

    For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office (VSO), located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

    The office: 264-4013, fax number: 264-4014, and email is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. Bring your DD Form 214 (discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO. Always leave a message and phone number to contact you.

    The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

    • American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

    • Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Tennyson Building Event Center, 197 Navajo Trail Drive. Breakfast meeting on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. Contact 799-8387 for more details.

    • Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.

    • Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: first and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Carter’s office; contact Charlotte at 903-9690.

    Important information

    • 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

    • Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

    • Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.

    • VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.

    • VA Health Care Emergency Notification: (844) 724-7842.

    The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.