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Saying goodbye to a fellow veteran

PREVIEW Columnist

It is with great sadness that I say goodbye to another fellow veteran and friend. Services and celebration will be held on Saturday, March 1, at1 p.m. at the American Legion Post home. Fair winds and following seas: Richard “Rick” Girardin, U.S. Army.

Pharmacy recognition

For the fourth consecutive year, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy received the highest customer satisfaction score among the nation’s public and private mail-order pharmacies, according to a respected, independent study.

“Our Nation’s Veterans deserve a first-class pharmacy as a part of the exceptional health care available,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “It is an honor to hear from Veterans that we are delivering on that commitment.”

The 2013 independent study was conducted by J.D. Power. Veterans were asked to rate VA on cost competitiveness, delivery, ordering process and customer service experience. Out of 1,000 possible points, VA scored 871. This was the highest score among participating mail-order pharmacies. The score matched the same industry-high score received by the Department in 2012. VA also led the industry nationwide in 2010 and 2011.

“The fact that we are rated higher than our private sector counterparts is due in part to our unique partnership with our patients and medical centers,” said Dr. Robert A. Petzel, VA’s Under Secretary for Health. “In addition to the convenience of mail-order service, Veterans also have a pharmacist available to meet with them face to face.”

VA participates in this annual survey as a way to compare itself against industry leaders and to ensure VA health care meets the highest standards. On Feb.13, an employee who works in the VA Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy received the 2013 Securing Americans Value Efficiency (SAVE) Award from President Obama. Kenneth Siehr from Milwaukee, Wis. met with the president to discuss his proposal. Siehr’s winning idea allows veterans to track the status of their mail-order prescriptions via the Veterans Health Administration’s MyHealtheVet web portal.

With over 8 million veterans enrolled, VA operates the largest integrated health care delivery system in the United States, with a mission to honor America’s veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well being. VA provides a broad range of primary care, specialized care, and related medical and social support services. More information is available at http://www.va.gov/health/. Veterans who wish to learn about the mail-order pharmacy and other health benefits can find information at www.va.gov/healthbenefits/.

The office of Archuleta County Veterans Service Officer provides assistance to qualified military veterans, and their families, or survivors in applying to and obtaining U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs program assistance, benefits and claims. This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affair’s. This is a mandated program of the State of Colorado.

Further information 

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

The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment at home or in the office so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.

I will be out of the office on the following days for regularly scheduled meetings:

• Vets4Vets: Tuesday mornings, 9 a.m.-noon.

• Arboles Community Center, first and third Thursdays. Back around 2 p.m.

• Pagosa Outreach Connection, 8:30-10 a.m. every Thursday.

• Home visits/Pine Ridge outreach, second and fourth Thursdays, back at 2 p.m.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590 and e-mail is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for completing applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to, and a copy for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office. If the office is closed, I am out assisting veterans; 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 7 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., Quality Resort.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: every other Monday at 6 p.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Charlotte: 731-1025.

• Point Man Ministries’ Breakfast for Veterans at 8:30 a.m. each Tuesday at Buffalo Inn, 164 N. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Vincent: 731-2769, vfortunato777@gmail.com.

Important numbers

• 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

• Farmington VA Center: (505) 327-9684.

• 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.

This story was posted on February 27, 2014.