Veterans Corner – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Fri, 01 May 2020 13:46:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 http://www.pagosasun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/cropped-sun-logo-512x512-1-32x32.jpg Veterans Corner – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com 32 32 Wilkie praises committee leaders’ end-of-year suicide prevention goal http://www.pagosasun.com/wilkie-praises-committee-leaders-end-of-year-suicide-prevention-goal/ Wed, 27 Nov 2019 22:00:53 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=192129 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie praised members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs recently for setting the goal of getting important veterans suicide prevention legislation passed before the end of the year.

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VA strengthens Caregiver Support Program http://www.pagosasun.com/va-strengthens-caregiver-support-program/ Wed, 13 Nov 2019 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190741 On Sept. 25, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced improvements to the Caregiver Support Program. This announcement put a timeline to expanding the comprehensive assistance to family caregivers.
The VA is expanding the program in accordance with section 161 of the VA MISSION Act of 2018.
Under the MISSION Act, the VA will use a phased approach to expand the program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers to eligible veterans from all eras. Currently, the program is only available to eligible veterans seriously injured in the line of duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001. Prior to expanding, the VA must upgrade its information technology (IT) system and implement other improvements to strengthen the program.
When will the program expand?
The VA is not currently accepting applications for the program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers for veterans of eras other than post 9/11. The first phase of the program expansion will occur once the secretary has certified that the VA’s new caregiver IT system is fully implemented, which could be as early as the summer of 2020. The VA will expand eligibility and begin accepting applications in two phases:
• In the first phase, the VA will begin accepting applications of eligible veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975.
• The final phase, due to begin two years later, will include eligible veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty after May 7, 1975, and to Sept. 10, 2001.
What is the timeline for expanding the IT system?
To modernize its caregiver IT system, the VA is adopting a three-phased approach and deployed a new system based on a commercial off-the-shelf product called Caregiver Record Management Application (CARMA) beginning in October. The VA will deploy phase two in January 2020 to centralize and automate stipend payment calculations and expects to deploy phase three in the summer of 2020, which will enable caregivers to apply for benefits online. The VA will then perform testing and verify that the system has full functionality before expanding the program as required under the MISSION Act.
What services does the VA offer for all caregivers?
The VA provides a wide range of services for caregivers including training, education, respite care, a telephone support line and self-care courses. These are available to caregivers for veterans enrolled for VA health care regardless of when or how they were injured.
What does the VA offer under the comprehensive assistance program?
Caregivers in this program may also receive a monthly stipend, beneficiary travel, mental health counseling, enhanced respite services and other benefits.
How is the VA
strengthening the
caregiver program?
In recent months, the VA has developed or amended 14 standard operating procedures to clarify program requirements for VA staff, increased oversight in each Veterans Integrated Service Network, provided training and education to staff and caregivers, and is boosting operational capacity with the hiring of more than 680 staff.
What else is the VA doing for caregivers?
The VA is working across the organization to ensure caregivers have a positive experience through program improvements and initiatives to include:
• Establishing a campaign (VA/Elizabeth Dole Foundation collaboration) that aims to integrate caregivers into the health care team, through education modules about topics such as the role and impact of caregivers.
• Expanding telehealth services to enable veterans and their caregivers to get care in the comfort of their homes.
• Providing a toolkit for caregivers and family members and their role in the prevention of suicide.
• Promoting self-care for caregivers through text messaging.
• Increasing self-care courses for caregivers.
• Providing home and community-based care alternatives through the Choose Home Initiative at 21 VA medical centers.
How can I learn more?
For detailed information on the Caregiver Support Program and the full range of services available to caregivers, visit: https://www.caregiver.va.gov/ or call the Caregiver Support Line at (855) 260-3274.
For more information
The office of the Archuleta County veterans service officer (VSO) provides assistance to qualified military veterans and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims. This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment, for either at your home or in the office, so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.
The office number is 264-4013; fax number is 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 office. Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.
Veterans’ groups
The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: First Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.
• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: Every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.
• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: First and third Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Dr. Sharon Carter’s office. Contact Charlotte at 903-9690.
Important numbers
• 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.
• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.
• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.
• VAMC Albuquerque NM: (800) 465-8262.
• VAMC Albuquerque NM emergency notification: (800) 465-8262, ext. 5739.
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.

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VA recognizes World Mental Health Day http://www.pagosasun.com/va-recognizes-world-mental-health-day/ Tue, 22 Oct 2019 11:00:21 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=189096 The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) joined organizations, communities, leaders and mental health professionals to observe World Mental Health Day Oct. 10.
This year’s theme was “mental health promotion and suicide prevention,” and the VA urged all veterans, service members, family and friends to learn about the resources and support available for those experiencing signs or symptoms of a mental health condition and to help prevent suicide among veterans.
“Suicide prevention is VA’s top clinical priority,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “As I’ve noted previously, this requires an all-hands-on-deck comprehensive approach. Encouraging communities to engage and participate in awareness activities is a critical element in our public health strategy to reducing veteran deaths by suicide.”
Every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide somewhere around the world. The VA and the World Federation of Health Mental Health (WFMH) want everyone to know that mental health treatment is effective, recovery is possible and suicide is preventable.
Join the VA and the WFMH in taking 40 seconds for action. Your actions may provide the encouragement a loved one needs to seek help or even help prevent a suicide attempt. Here are a few ways to participate:
• Explore the Veterans Crisis Line and suicide prevention links to learn about the many ways you can be there for a veteran in need and more information.
• Visit MakeTheConnection.net to watch videos of over 500 veterans — from every service era and branch — share their stories of coping with major life events, overcoming mental health challenges and finding a new sense of purpose. Then, share one of these inspiring stories with a veteran loved one.
• Check out MentalHealth.va.gov for information and resources on a variety of mental health topics and conditions, including suicide risk, anxiety, depression and more.
• Connect with Coaching Into Care, a free telephone service for family members, friends and loved ones of veterans who may need mental health support. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call (888) 823-7458 to get started.
If you are a veteran in crisis or are concerned about one, the Veterans Crisis Line is here to help. Call (800) 273-8255 and press 1, send a text message to 838255 or chat online.
For more information
The office of the Archuleta County veterans service officer (VSO) provides assistance to qualified military veterans and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims. This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment, for either at your home or in the office, so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.
The office number is 264-4013; fax number is 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 office. Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.
Veterans’ groups
The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: Second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.
• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: Every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.
• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: First and third Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Dr. Sharon Carter’s office. Contact Charlotte at 903-9690.
Important numbers
• 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.
• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.
• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.
• VAMC Albuquerque NM: (800) 465-8262.
• VAMC Albuquerque NM emergency notification: (800) 465-8262, ext. 5739.
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.

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VA and Virta Health partner in innovative approach to diabetes care http://www.pagosasun.com/va-and-virta-health-partner-in-innovative-approach-to-diabetes-care/ Thu, 06 Jun 2019 21:00:32 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=169654 The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a partnership on May 13 with Virta Health to explore an innovative program focused on improving the health of persons with Type 2 diabetes.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

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White House VA Hotline surpasses 250,000 calls from veteran community http://www.pagosasun.com/white-house-va-hotline-surpasses-250000-calls-from-veteran-community/ Tue, 04 Jun 2019 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=169235 Pledged by President Donald J. Trump as part of his administration’s commitment to reforming the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as of May 14, the White House VA Hotline has answered more than 250,195 calls since it went live June 1, 2017.
The hotline, (855) 948-2311, serves veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors by giving them a direct, nonemergency, contact line available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with agents — the majority of whom are veterans or from a veteran family — who are trained to address general and common VA inquiries.
“The White House VA Hotline is quickly becoming VA’s front door for questions or concerns about VA and community resources,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This milestone is a testament to VA’s commitment to improving the veteran experience.”
While veterans are encouraged to use existing VA contact centers, the hotline offers an alternative “always the right number’” approach, transferring calls when needed to VA subject matter experts, such as the Veterans Crisis Line. The hotline serves as the VA’s front door to listen to veterans’ experiences, identify trends in veteran feedback and resolve veterans health, benefits and services concerns anywhere in the department.
More than half the calls to the hotline are general inquiries about the VA’s care, benefits and memorial services. Concerns that cannot be resolved immediately are entered as cases, accessible to the VA Offices of Client Relations. To date, 94 percent of the total 157,346 cases created have been resolved.
According to recent data from April, the average wait time to speak to a live agent was nine seconds, with calls typically lasting about 15 minutes. About 1 percent of all calls were compliments.
For further information, please contact the veteran services office.
For more information
The office of the Archuleta County veterans service officer (VSO) provides assistance to qualified military veterans and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims. This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment, for either at your home or in the office, so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.
The office number is 264-4013; fax number is 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 office. Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.
Veterans’ groups
The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
• American Legion Post 108: Second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: Second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.
• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: Every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.
• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: First and third Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Dr. Sharon Carter’s office. Contact Charlotte at 903-9690.
Important numbers
• 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.
• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.
• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.
• VAMC Albuquerque NM: (800) 465-8262.
• VAMC Albuquerque NM emergency notification: (800) 465-8262, ext. 5739.
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.

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VA to celebrate Women’s Health Week with events at medical centers http://www.pagosasun.com/va-to-celebrate-womens-health-week-with-events-at-medical-centers/ Thu, 09 May 2019 21:12:23 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=167785 In celebration of National Women’s Health Week, May 12-18, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers (VAMCs) across the country will host events to support women veterans and connect them with the VA’s health care services.
“VA is serving nearly a half million women veterans and we want to take care of even more,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Events like these get them through the doors, so they meet VA health providers and learn firsthand about the comprehensive services and quality care VA provides to women who have served.”
Women are among the fastest growing veteran demographics, accounting for more than 30 percent of the increase in veterans who served between 2014 and 2018. The number of women using VA health services has tripled since 2000, growing from about 160,000 to nearly 500,000 today. The VA offers a wide range of primary care and specialty services for women veterans, such as health screenings, preconception counseling, maternity care, menopausal support and more.
VAMCs with dedicated women’s health clinics will celebrate National Women’s Health Week by hosting either an open house or outreach events. Veterans attending these events can speak with health providers about the broad range of services offered at their medical centers and hear from experts on topics such as maternity care and child safe homes. Tours of the clinics and educational materials will be available.
For further information, please contact the Veteran Services Office.
For more information
The office of the Archuleta County veterans service officer (VSO) provides assistance to qualified military veterans and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims. This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment, for either at your home or in the office, so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.
The office number is 264-4013; fax number is 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 office.
Veterans’ groups
The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
• American Legion Post 108: Second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: Second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.
• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: Every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.
• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: First and third Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Dr. Sharon Carter’s office. Contact Charlotte at 903-9690.

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VA continues to pioneer new approaches for treating veteran mental health conditions http://www.pagosasun.com/va-continues-to-pioneer-new-approaches-for-treating-veteran-mental-health-conditions/ Sun, 24 Mar 2019 11:00:47 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=164334 A recent study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open on March 1 showed positive outcomes for veterans struggling with multiple mental health conditions.
The randomized implementation trial, which included 5,596 veterans receiving care in a VA outpatient mental health clinic, showed that effective teamwork and a patient’s active involvement in their care can reduce hospitalization rates for veterans with mental health conditions.
“VA is committed to ensuring veterans receive the best mental health care available,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said. “Combining best practices, such as those identified in the study allows VA to continually refine our mental health services.”
The study outlines effective steps for veterans, their clinicians and the larger VA health care system to all work together to positively impact the mental health of veterans. The new collaborative, interdisciplinary team approach to outpatient mental health demonstrated:
• Reduced rate of mental health hospitalizations among veterans treated by the teams.
• Improved mental health status for veterans with multiple mental health conditions.
• Improved clinician team function in terms of clarity of team member roles and prioritization of team over individual goals.
During the study, researchers worked with existing VA Behavioral Health Interdisciplinary Program (BHIP) teams in mental health outpatient clinics. BHIP teams generally comprise psychiatrists, psychologists, RN care managers, advanced practice nurses, peer support specialists, social workers and licensed therapists.
Researchers helped these teams to align their care processes with the scientifically proven (i.e., evidence-based) Collaborative Chronic Care Model (CCM), which is an approach for integrating behavioral health care and engaging veterans to be active participants in their care. This study extended the CCM, which had been scientifically proven to improve outcomes in formal clinical research trials, to VA outpatient clinics.
As a result of the findings collected during the trial and based off veteran health status and satisfaction data gathered during telephone interviews at baseline and at six and 12 months of support, VA plans to nationally implement the unique team-based model of care over the next two years to benefit more veterans and those who care for them.
For further information, please contact the Veteran Services Office.
For more information
The office of the Archuleta County veterans service officer (VSO) provides assistance to qualified military veterans and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims. This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment, for either at your home or in the office, so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.
The office number is 264-4013; fax number is 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 office. Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.
Veterans’ groups
The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
• American Legion Post 108: Second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: Second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.
• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: Every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.
• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: First and third Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Dr. Sharon Carter’s office. Contact Charlotte at 903-9690.
Important numbers
• 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.
• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.
• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.
• VAMC Albuquerque NM: (800) 465-8262.
• VAMC Albuquerque NM emergency notification: (800) 465-8262, ext. 5739.
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.

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Executive order signed to empower veterans and end veteran suicide http://www.pagosasun.com/executive-order-signed-to-empower-veterans-and-end-veteran-suicide/ Mon, 18 Mar 2019 11:00:19 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=163883 President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order titled “National Initiative to Empower Veterans and End Veterans Suicide,” which focuses on improving the quality of life for America’s veterans and ending the tragedy of veteran suicide.
“As the largest integrated health care provider in the nation and a leader in developing innovative mental health and suicide prevention strategies, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is uniquely positioned to co-chair this effort with the White House,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Veterans suicide is a national public health issue that affects communities everywhere, and this executive order is a national call to action.”
The executive order mandates the establishment of the Veteran Wellness, Empowerment and Suicide Prevention Task Force. The task force will include the secretaries of defense, health and human services, energy, homeland security, labor, education and housing and urban development, as well as the director of the office of management and budget, assistant to the president for National Security Affairs, and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Within 365 days of the date of the order and working with a variety of representatives from across both the public and private sectors, the task force shall:
• Develop a comprehensive national public health road map outlining the specific strategies needed to lower effectively the rate of veteran suicide, with a focus on community engagement;
• Design and propose to Congress a program for making grants to local communities, which will increase their ability to collaborate with each other, integrate service delivery and coordinate resources to veterans; and
• Develop a national research strategy to improve the coordination, monitoring, benchmarking and execution of research in the field of veteran suicide prevention.
“We are committed to saving veteran lives, but just as there is no single cause of suicide, no single organization can end veteran suicide alone,” Wilkie said. “We must work side by side with our partners at all levels of government — and in the private sector — to provide our veterans with the mental health and suicide prevention services they need. This executive order advances the public health approach to suicide prevention further by identifying key integrations and connections across the federal government and communities that can be used to save veterans’ lives.”
Learn more about the VA’s suicide prevention resources and programs at www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention.
Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide and those who know a veteran in crisis can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call (800) 273-8255 and press 1, send a text message to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
For further information, please contact the Veteran Services Office.
Important numbers
• 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.
• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.
• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.
• VAMC Albuquerque NM: (800) 465-8262.
• VAMC Albuquerque NM emergency notification: (800) 465-8262, ext. 5739.

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VA Debt Management Center reduces average wait times for veterans contacting call center http://www.pagosasun.com/va-debt-management-center-reduces-average-wait-times-for-veterans-contacting-call-center/ Thu, 15 Nov 2018 22:57:25 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=142442 The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Debt Management Center (DMC) reached a recent milestone this July when it reported it had lowered the average wait times for veterans contacting the call center, from over 21 minutes in fiscal year (FY) 2016 to under five minutes during FY 2018.
“The team at the DMC has enhanced services to our veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “It’s our mission to take care of our veterans, no matter what their needs are. DMC is in concert with our priority of improving customer service and will continue to gather customer feedback through direct feedback, surveys and outreach in FY19 to further enhance the veterans’ experience.”
For the past three years, DMC received around 1 million calls annually with an average call wait time of about 21 minutes. In FY 2017, DMC launched a series of internal efficiencies and process improvements that also included an individual voluntary arrangement so it’s easier for the debtor to repay back the debt.
Initiatives included enhancing staffing levels to meet demand, enhancing contact center technology, focusing on employee development and engagement, and implementing an automated 12-month payment plan.
These veteran-focused initiatives represent a 79 percent reduction over two years to the average time for waiting and a 40 percent increase of actual calls taken. These are all indicators of successful initiatives providing a better experience for veterans and VA employees.
The DMC’s inbound contact center serves as the central point for veterans and their family members to make payment arrangements or receive guidance regarding the collection process on overpayments, which could include debts created from education or pension payments.
Debt counselors at the DMC work with callers in a professional and service-oriented manner to help them understand their options to address overpayments with veterans either through extended repayment plans, the dispute process, compromise process or waiver process
DMC’s contact center provides debt counseling for the Veterans Benefits Administration, and consolidated collection services of non-health care debt for Veterans Health Administration and National Cemetery Administration, enabling these entities to focus resources on accomplishing their core missions.
DMC has provided centralized debt collection programs of veteran benefit overpayments since 1975 and became a fee-for-service enterprise center in 1996.
Services available for local veterans
Pine Ridge Extended Care Center is VA-certified, which means there are services available for our local veterans. These services have eligibility requirements and specific programs. For more information, please contact this office or Pine Ridge.
For more information
The office of the Archuleta County veterans service officer (VSO) provides assistance to qualified military veterans, and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims.
This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.
The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment, for either at your home or in the office, so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.
The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590 and email is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Bring a 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 Veterans Service Office.
Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.

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VA study on cholesterol genetics could lead to new treatments for heart disease, diabetes http://www.pagosasun.com/va-study-on-cholesterol-genetics-could-lead-to-new-treatments-for-heart-disease-diabetes/ Thu, 08 Nov 2018 22:00:29 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=140687 In the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) drive to help improve lives of veterans through health care discovery and innovation, a team led by VA researchers recently identified three genetic mutations that govern cholesterol levels, which could lead to the development of new drugs to treat cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Detailed results of the study can be found in the Oct. 1 issue of “Nature Genetics,” a scientific journal.
“This is fantastic news, not just for veterans, but for all Americans suffering from these diseases,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “VA researchers have been improving the lives of veterans and all Americans through health care discovery and innovation for decades. Their groundbreaking research has resulted in three Nobel prizes and numerous other national and international honors.”
Using data from VA’s Million Veteran Program (MVP), the researchers found that three genes — PDE3B, PCSK9 and ANGPTL4 — could be targets for treatment of heart disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm and diabetes, respectively. VA research showed that those with specific mutations to the genes had better cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those without the mutations.
The PDE3B mutation appears to protect against heart disease. A mutation in PCSK9 seems to decrease the risk not only of heart disease, but also abdominal aortic aneurysm — a condition in which the aorta is enlarged, which could lead it to rupture and cause life-threatening bleeding. The ANGPTL4 mutation was linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The research was supported by VA, the National Institutes of Health and Stanford’s Department of Medicine.
MVP is a national, voluntary research program funded by VA’s Office of Research and Development. MVP partners with veterans receiving care in the Veterans Health Administration to study how genes affect health. As of late September 2018, MVP had enrolled more than 700,000 veterans. It is already one of the world’s largest databases of health and genomic information.
The “Nature Genetics” publication is one of the first major papers describing scientific findings from MVP. The publication highlights the power of researchers having access to data from large numbers of individuals.
In this instance, researchers were able to identify several novel genetic factors that affect people’s blood lipid (cholesterol and triglyceride) levels. Such findings may lead to new approaches to diagnose people at risk for cardiovascular disease, as well as identify candidate therapeutic targets.
Veterans Day breakfast
The Veterans Day breakfast will be held on Nov. 12 at the Ross Aragon Community Center. All veterans and family members are urged to attend. You will be glad you did.
Presentation of flag-folding service will be at 9 a.m.; anyone in uniform please join us. This will be followed by a luncheon at the American Legion Post at noon. A short ceremony marking Veterans Day will precede the potluck lunch.
For further information, please contact the Archuleta County Veteran Services Office.
Services available for
local veterans
Pine Ridge Extended Care Center is VA-certified, which means there are services available for our local veterans. These services have eligibility requirements and specific programs. For more information, please contact this office or Pine Ridge.
For more information
The office of the Archuleta County veterans service officer (VSO) provides assistance to qualified military veterans, and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims.
This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Veterans Service Office, located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.
The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment, for either at your home or in the office, so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.
The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590 and email is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Bring a 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 Veteran Services Office.
Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.
Veterans’ groups
The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: first Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.
• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: Every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St. Contact Kevin Kelly at (505) 699-0824.
• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: First and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Sharon Carter’s office. Contact Charlotte at 903-9690.
Important numbers
• 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.
• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.
• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.
• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.
• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M., emergency notification: (800) 465-8262, ext. 5739.
• 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.

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