There are more than 3,500 veteran assistants (VA) across the United States. Their meticulous responsibility of mending clues has brought medical breakthroughs and treatments that have gone a long way towards improving overall health conditions of the veterans and other citizens.
The accomplishments achieved range from vaccine for shingles, powered ankle-foot prosthesis, successful liver transplant, nicotine patch, computerized axial tomography, implantable cardiac pace maker, and therapies for tuberculosis during the Second World War.
VAs have gone further and through their research work have established that a tablet of aspirin in a day minimizes mortality rate and non-fatal heart complications in patients suffering from unstable angina by more than 50 percent. Recently in 2014, VA researchers have made a milestone by testing insulin nasal spray that indicates exceptional activity in deterring off Alzheimer-related complications.
They also discovered that prazosin, which is a drug developed to counter high blood pressure and prostrate cancer, can enhance an individual’s sleeping conditions and at the same time minimize on nightmares for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
So far three VA researchers have been acclaimed with Nobel Prizes. These exceptional people are: Dr. Ferid Murad, Dr. Yalow, and Dr. Andrew. Dr. Ferid led discoveries related to nitric oxide, which is a body chemical that assists with maintaining healthy blood receptacles. Dr. Yalow is known for his accomplishment in radioimmunoassay that detects and evaluates different substances within the blood stream. Finally, Dr. Andrew played a role in evaluating the role of peptide production in the human brain.
Integrated Health Systems in Streamlining Veterans Health Services
VA researchers’ operations are today integrated with a modern information system infrastructure that is critical towards bench-to-bedside research. Through such information systems, the researchers have successfully established a computerized system that provides patients operating through ventilators with more precise accuracy pertaining to their respirator settings, resulting into less medical-related complications while at the same time providing better outcomes.
In addition, the researchers have partnered with several medical related agencies such as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DEKA) whereby through such an initiative, milestones have been achieved in areas such as hypertension. This illustrates that medication treatment is more effective in containing blood pressure while minimizing incidences associated with cardio sections.
Through robust technology such as Tele-health, veterans remotely meet with their doctors through videoconferencing platforms that connect veterans with physicians located thousands of miles away. The technology means that instead of incurring expenses such as travelling costs to the doctor, it is the physician that comes to the patient, a medical breakthrough in its own.
There are also a number of mobile apps developed to enhance data sharing and streamlining of information flow between veterans, medical facilities, researchers and physicians. Through conveniences provided by such technologies, veterans’ health resources are maximized while at the same time provide additional flexibility since veterans easily engage with their core teams while managing their own self-care.
VAs have continued playing a remarkable role in healthcare, and ongoing researchers, volunteers and medical interns continue playing a critical role in thousands of studies in nursing homes, outpatient facilities and VA centers across the country. The researchers are persistently collaborating with federal agencies, non-profit entities, and academic affiliates to streamline veterans’ health care.
For instance, the Department of Defense (DoD) and VA researchers have been collaborating for the last two decades through the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury initiative, and the two bodies have successfully undertaken a different initiative to alleviate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that focuses solely on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD.
Besides, veterans are increasingly volunteering to expedite clinical research works because there is an anticipated direct benefit to their lives and also the lives of future veterans. Apart from the milestones accomplished, there are several initiatives being undertaken by veteran researchers across the country including:
- The researchers have partnered with operational partners in different centers of innovation such as the USAID and World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that research policies provide greatest impact and outcome for health veterans in the U.S.
- The researchers are also fully involved with the Health of Vietnam Era Women’s Study (ViEWS) that mainly focuses on the physical health of female colleagues who played a role during the Vietnam War era.
Other than the achievements, it must be acknowledged that there is an increasing rate of suicide cases among war veterans. The success of anxiety disorders, depression and post traumatic stress disorders have improved significantly over the last two decades. The current medical breakthroughs, coupled with counseling services have assisted many veterans to have improved medical conditions.
Despite the progress, the fallout from the two wars, Iraq and Second World War, is likelier to impact veterans and their immediate families for more that 70 years with conditions such as Alzheimer disease, post traumatic brain injuries (TBI), depression and PTSD being common. These conditions are today sorted out through prolonged and intense long-term focus and commitments from veteran researchers.
Most veterans are having difficulties in travelling to receive medications due to remote locations, disability, illness or age-related factors. To enhance the veterans’ access to medication, VAs are today providing transportation services for all veterans eligible for VA healthcare benefits provided that they hold a VA-authorized permit.
The service is currently available in 45 different locations and since its implementation, the program has assisted tens of thousands of veterans to acquire medication, a situation that was previously impossible.
More and more physicians are redirecting their efforts towards specialty areas leaving a huge gap in the primary and outpatient care whereby veterans are among some of the disadvantaged groups. In light of this fact, a proposal has been made by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to expand the role provided by the nurses. Under the proposals, the Department of Veteran Affairs medical regulations and policies will be amended to enable veterans receive clinical care from registered nurses.
Such a move will directly deepen the quality of healthcare for veterans. It is also good news to states such as Florida, California and Texas that host close to 1.5 million in population of veterans.
The move is also laudable in the sense that most veterans from Iraq and Vietnam wars are aging and experiencing various physical and mental complications. The nurses can go a long way in assisting these individuals to better cope with complex health problems by becoming their own self health managers.
Other initiatives include rapid harmonization of the veterans’ health scheme by the newly elected Trump administration that has promised radical surgery to streamline medical related services for the veterans including increasing funding and the number of clinical outlets accepting war veterans.