Archives for May 2015

Designing Clothes for Veterans with Prosthetics

womann in wheelchair talking to another woman in a consultation room

Erika Morales-Hernandez, a senior student in clothing engineering, consults with Air Force Veteran Judy McCombs



Photo by Claudie Benjamin

She was asked the question, “How do you put on pants?” Air Force Veteran Judy McCombs answered with a laugh, “In bed with a lot of wiggling. It’s like putting on skinny jeans.”

The question was actually quite serious and her response was significant to Erika Morales-Hernandez, a senior student in clothing engineering, completing her capstone project at SUNY’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

Morales-Hernandez and four other students are working together to engineer clothing that is comfortable, fashionable, and easy to put on for Veterans with disabilities.

McCombs, a patient at VA’s St. Albans Community Living Center, was enthusiastic in sharing her experience with clothing with Morales-Hernandez, who took notes and made sketches during their meeting in McCombs’ room. McCombs has multiple medical problems and has been wheelchair-bound for the past three years.

Even during their first meeting, McCombs was able to make meaningful design suggestions to Morales-Hernandez, who describes her designs: “I had designed a cape to be shorter in back to avoid bunching in the back of the wheelchair, but now I understand it has to be shorter in front as well to ensure freedom of movement,” she says. This garment, as with others engineered by the group, uses magnetic snaps or Velcro to make closing and fastening the garment easier.

“Fashion can make a huge difference in your demeanor, self-esteem, and even your personality.”

During a meeting with Anna Smith, also an Air Force Veteran who uses a wheelchair, Morales-Hernandez discussed the challenge of designing something that is both functional and attractive.

Another FIT student, Nastaran Eghtesad, met with Army Veteran Pamela Winfield, who was attacked by a man wielding a samurai sword. Acting as a good samaritan, Winfield lost her arm while saving the life of an elderly neighbor. Winfield and Eghtesad discussed the daily struggles of getting dressed as an amputee.

“It was very helpful to my research to see how I could develop clothing that is amputee and overall disability friendly. Struggles of fastening closures such as zippers and buttons we take for granted, but are challenges that amputees must overcome every day. With the feedback from the interview, I am able to come up with alternate closures for garments and certain functions that amputees would appreciate,” said Eghtesad. She is designing a button-up shirt with interchangeable sleeves, and also slacks.

two women discussing designs
FIT Student Erika Morales-Hernandez meets with Army Veteran Anna Smith

Eghtesad adds, “There will be trials of samples and fittings using muslin and the final fabric to make sure the clothing fits and functions properly. Most importantly, the clothing will not lose style integrity, because fashion can make a huge difference in your demeanor, self-esteem, and even personality. Winfield was a great inspiration, I am honored to work with her on this project.”

The students are still debating fabrics and color choices. “As of right now, we are considering crepes, knits, and wool fabrics for a fall/winter line. Color-wise, we were thinking of blacks, navys, whites, red and camel. We want these clothes to be appealing in a wide range of age.”

Eghtesad has also met with occupational therapist Roxanne Disla, prosthetic and orthotic technologist Ed Sliwinski, who wears a left leg prosthesis, and prosthetist Christopher Fantini, to discuss details such as which fabrics are least likely to catch on prosthetic devices that are made of thermoplastics and acrylic resins, and often incorporate metal.

All the students in the group had a charge from their professor, Luz Pascal, to engineer garments that will improve someone’s life. The students are consulting with individuals who have neurological problems that create difficulties when they get dressed and present challenges when they are looking for variety in clothing.

The students had multiple meetings with the Veterans until the garments were designed, fitted and produced, and presented at a final session for FIT professors, other students in this class, and the Veterans they consulted.

Fashionistas at the Final Presentations

Air Force Veteran Anna Smith proved herself to be a model who engages with her audience, at the capstone presentation held in April at SUNY’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Smith hammed it up a little for an appreciative group of students and staff, but the presentation of garments especially engineered for people with disabilities was all serious.

two women discussing designs
Army Veteran Pam Winfield (L) and clothing engineering student Nastaran Eghtesad

Army Veteran Pamela Winfield attended as part of the audience. Smith modeled an outfit designed for ease in dressing and undressing featuring a blouse design inspired by Winfield, who wears a high-tech prosthetic left hand. The garment has interchangeable sleeves attached with velcro that allows for versatility and ease of wear.

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/May/Designing-Clothes-for-Veterans-with-Prosthetics.asp

VA Begins Summer of Service to Bolster Volunteer Assistance for Veterans








VA Begins Summer of Service to Bolster Volunteer Assistance for Veterans

May 26, 2015, 11:19:00 AM





Printable Version




 


VA Begins Summer of Service to Bolster Volunteer Assistance for Veterans


Calls Upon Individuals, Organizations and Communities to Serve Veterans in Nationwide Effort


 


WASHINGTON, DC—The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced a new nationwide initiative designed to build upon its existing partnerships to grow the number of individuals and organizations serving Veterans in their communities. The Department is renewing its commitment to Veterans and embarking upon a “Summer of Service” that seeks the help of citizens across the country to honor that commitment.


“We have made progress over the past year addressing the challenges we face in delivering care and benefits to millions of Veterans and their families,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald.  “While there is more work to do to honor our sacred commitment to Veterans, we also recognize that VA cannot do it alone. We are asking Americans everywhere to join the Summer of Service and help us give back to those who have given so much to our nation.”


In the coming weeks, VA will be working closely with Congressional partners, Veterans Service Organizations, Mayors and local communities, private sector and non-profit organizations, and VA employees to identify new and innovative ways to support VA’s commitment to care for those who “have borne the battle” and their families. 


As part of VA’s Summer of Service, the Department has committed to holding an open house in VA facilities the week of June 28 to spur increased local engagement and welcome members of the community interested in supporting the needs of Veterans. VA has also established the following goals to achieve by Labor Day:


  • Increasing Volunteers: Committed to engaging with 100,000 volunteers to support care and benefits programs and local events.

  • Increasing Community Partners: Committed to expanding current agreements to provide services and support reaching more than 15,000 Veterans and family.

  • Recruiting Medical Professionals: Hiring clinicians and clinical support staff to further expand access to care and homelessness.

  • Congress: Host Congressional Members and Staffs at VA facilities across the country.


The Department has an outstanding volunteer program, which will be highlighted throughout the country this summer. VA will build upon the ongoing work of its more than 350,000 employees and 76,000 volunteers around the nation. While the central focus of the campaign will be increasing volunteerism and partnerships, it will also provide individuals and communities an opportunity to support other important priorities. Despite a hiring effort that brought more than 11,000 net new employees onboard over the past year, VA still needs more health care providers, claims specialists, medical support assistants, and cemetery directors to continue to expand needed services. VA’s partners can help by getting the word out this summer.


            In the last year, VA has completed more than 46 million appointments, an increase of more than two million from the previous year.  Nearly 3 million Veterans received care in the private sector, an increase of more than 44 percent from the previous year.  The number of Veterans and Survivors receiving monthly compensation and pension benefits has increased to nearly 5 million.  In an effort to improve the Veteran’s customer service experience, VA has begun the most comprehensive re-organization in its history.  The initiative, called MyVA, has been guided by ideas and recommendations from Veterans, employees, and stakeholders. 


            “There is no mission more noble than serving Veterans and their families. At VA, we constantly strive to improve the way we do our job,” said McDonald.  “State by state, community by community, person by person, there are a number of ways we can all come together to serve Veterans. From expanded partnerships with the private sector and non-profit organizations, to accelerating hiring, to celebrating the commitment of VA employees and volunteers – we need the help of communities everywhere to succeed.”


Volunteers can help to serve Veterans by visiting http://www.volunteer.va.gov/ to find out the needs of your local VA facility. Follow #VASummerOfService on Vantage Point, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and join VA in caring for America’s Veterans.


For more information, go to:   http://www.va.gov/vasummerofservice/


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Source Article from http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/PressArtInternet.cfm?id=2706

Biloxi VA in Most Beautiful Hospital Competition

View of the Biloxi facility from the front flag pole

 


All photos by Wayne Alley

VA’s Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi, Mississippi, has been nominated in an annual search to find the Top 20 Most Beautiful Hospitals in America.

Here’s one reason why:

aerial view of the Biloxi VA campus with Mullet Lake in the background

The Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System is the only VA hospital chosen in the final group of hospitals nominated from across America. Anyone can vote for the hospital of their choice. Voting takes less than one minute. Biloxi has a beautiful facility with a noble mission, so let’s spread the word.

The annual competition is sponsored by Soliant Health, one of the largest health care staffing companies in America.

Healing is Beautiful, and Vice Versa

The link between beautiful hospitals and pleased patients has been observed by Soliant staff as they work in facilities around the country. “There is a special feel to hospitals with inviting public spaces and soothing private rooms,” said one nurse. “Patients who feel satisfied with the facility may recover faster and have shorter stays, which is good for both hospital and patient.”

“Patients who feel satisfied with the facility may recover faster and have shorter stays.”

According to David Alexander, president of Soliant Health, “As a provider of health care professionals for hospitals, we recognize that staff morale and attention to patients’ needs are critical to patients’ happiness, but our surveys also show that another factor in satisfaction was how the hospital actually looked.”

Homelike Atmosphere

The Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System has fully embraced cultural transformation in all new construction and renovations. Their interior designers have taken the lead for VA nationwide in developing interiors that help create a comforting homelike atmosphere.

From Medical/Surgical and ICU units to Community Living Center, Residential Rehabilitation, and inpatient behavioral health, a homelike atmosphere has been integrated into all patient care areas without compromising infection control standards or interfering with state-of-the-art medical care.

Design Promotes Exercise and Fellowship

Outside the bricks and mortar, the Biloxi medical center incorporates cultural transformation and patient-centered care philosophy through landscapes and areas of recreation. The Central Lawn and meandering sidewalks encourage more walking and the new basketball court invites activities promoting exercise and fellowship.


Sprawling campus on Bay Back Biloxi with magnificent moss-laden oak trees.

The fishing pier provides an opportunity to relax and enjoy the view or veterans can try their luck at fishing with gear and bait provided at the nearby bait shack.

Bicycles are provided for those that enjoy a nice leisurely ride around the sprawling 105 acre campus that includes scenic views on Bay Back Biloxi and magnificent moss-laden live oak trees.

The Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System is accredited by the Joint Commission to serve Veterans across three states.The VA Medical Center is located in Biloxi, Miss., with four Community Based Outpatient Clinics located in Mobile, Ala., Pensacola, Fla., Fort Walton Beach, Fla. and Panama City, Fla.

The VA Medical Center in Biloxi and the Florida CBOCs are located in close proximity to Department of Defense military installations.

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/May/Biloxi-VA-in-Most-Beautiful-Hospital-Competition.asp

VA Remembers America’s Fallen on Memorial Day

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/May/VA-Remembers-Americas-Fallen-on-Memorial-Day.asp

90 Years of VA Research Improves Veterans’ Lives

female technician work with samples near a fume hood

In 2015, 3,400 VA researchers will work on 2,200 projects


VA will highlight 90 years of improving the lives of Veterans and other Americans through medical and prosthetics research when it celebrates National VA Research Week May 18-22, 2015.

During fiscal year 2015, nearly 3,400 VA researchers will work on more than 2,200 projects.

VA medical centers across the nation will mark VA Research Week with special events such as tours of their research facilities, lectures, and luncheons to honor the Veterans who voluntarily participate in VA studies.

The week-long activities will highlight current research, much of it focusing on Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, and using new technology in fields such as brain imaging, DNA sequencing and cell therapy.

“VA research has benefited Veterans and millions of other Americans and patients worldwide.”

five researchers working in a laboratory

VA’s Dr. Andrew Schally (r), winner of Nobel Prize.

Another highlight of Research Week will center on VA’s Million Veteran Program, which aims to create one of the world’s largest databases of health and genetic information. To date, the program has enrolled some 350,000 Veterans.

Also in the spotlight will be past accomplishments, such as the work of Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Andrew Schally, who received the award in 1977 for discoveries relating to hormones. Today, nearly four decades later, Dr. Schally is still an active VA researcher, studying cancer, diabetes and heart disease at the Miami VA Medical Center.

“VA Research and Development plays a pivotal role in improving the health of Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “In addition, the advances in health care developed by VA have benefited millions of other Americans and patients worldwide.”

As part of the nation’s largest integrated health care system, VA research has unique opportunities to address some of the most critical issues in health care today.

“From the development of effective therapies for tuberculosis and implantable cardiac pacemakers, to the first successful liver transplant and the nicotine patch, VA’s trail-blazing research accomplishments are a source of great pride to VA and the nation,” said Dr. Timothy O’Leary, VA’s chief research and development officer.

“The impact of VA research on Veterans’ lives stretches back to the 1920s, when researchers reported on studies looking at treatments for malaria, the long-term health effects of chemical warfare, and mortality among Veterans with mental illness.”

90th anniversary seal

To learn more about the work of VA researchers, past and present, visit www.research.va.gov. For more information on local and national events marking National VA Research Week, visit http://www.research.va.gov/ResearchWeek/

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/May/90-Years-of-VA-Research-Improves-Veterans-Lives.asp

VA Remembers America’s Fallen on Memorial Day

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/May/VA-Remembers-Americas-Fallen-on-Memorial-Day.asp

90 Years of VA Research Improves Veterans’ Lives

female technician work with samples near a fume hood

In 2015, 3,400 VA researchers will work on 2,200 projects


VA will highlight 90 years of improving the lives of Veterans and other Americans through medical and prosthetics research when it celebrates National VA Research Week May 18-22, 2015.

During fiscal year 2015, nearly 3,400 VA researchers will work on more than 2,200 projects.

VA medical centers across the nation will mark VA Research Week with special events such as tours of their research facilities, lectures, and luncheons to honor the Veterans who voluntarily participate in VA studies.

The week-long activities will highlight current research, much of it focusing on Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, and using new technology in fields such as brain imaging, DNA sequencing and cell therapy.

“VA research has benefited Veterans and millions of other Americans and patients worldwide.”

five researchers working in a laboratory

VA’s Dr. Andrew Schally (r), winner of Nobel Prize.

Another highlight of Research Week will center on VA’s Million Veteran Program, which aims to create one of the world’s largest databases of health and genetic information. To date, the program has enrolled some 350,000 Veterans.

Also in the spotlight will be past accomplishments, such as the work of Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Andrew Schally, who received the award in 1977 for discoveries relating to hormones. Today, nearly four decades later, Dr. Schally is still an active VA researcher, studying cancer, diabetes and heart disease at the Miami VA Medical Center.

“VA Research and Development plays a pivotal role in improving the health of Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “In addition, the advances in health care developed by VA have benefited millions of other Americans and patients worldwide.”

As part of the nation’s largest integrated health care system, VA research has unique opportunities to address some of the most critical issues in health care today.

“From the development of effective therapies for tuberculosis and implantable cardiac pacemakers, to the first successful liver transplant and the nicotine patch, VA’s trail-blazing research accomplishments are a source of great pride to VA and the nation,” said Dr. Timothy O’Leary, VA’s chief research and development officer.

“The impact of VA research on Veterans’ lives stretches back to the 1920s, when researchers reported on studies looking at treatments for malaria, the long-term health effects of chemical warfare, and mortality among Veterans with mental illness.”

90th anniversary seal

To learn more about the work of VA researchers, past and present, visit www.research.va.gov. For more information on local and national events marking National VA Research Week, visit http://www.research.va.gov/ResearchWeek/

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/May/90-Years-of-VA-Research-Improves-Veterans-Lives.asp

VA Remembers America’s Fallen on Memorial Day

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/May/VA-Remembers-Americas-Fallen-on-Memorial-Day.asp

90 Years of VA Research Improves Veterans’ Lives

female technician work with samples near a fume hood

In 2015, 3,400 VA researchers will work on 2,200 projects


VA will highlight 90 years of improving the lives of Veterans and other Americans through medical and prosthetics research when it celebrates National VA Research Week May 18-22, 2015.

During fiscal year 2015, nearly 3,400 VA researchers will work on more than 2,200 projects.

VA medical centers across the nation will mark VA Research Week with special events such as tours of their research facilities, lectures, and luncheons to honor the Veterans who voluntarily participate in VA studies.

The week-long activities will highlight current research, much of it focusing on Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, and using new technology in fields such as brain imaging, DNA sequencing and cell therapy.

“VA research has benefited Veterans and millions of other Americans and patients worldwide.”

five researchers working in a laboratory

VA’s Dr. Andrew Schally (r), winner of Nobel Prize.

Another highlight of Research Week will center on VA’s Million Veteran Program, which aims to create one of the world’s largest databases of health and genetic information. To date, the program has enrolled some 350,000 Veterans.

Also in the spotlight will be past accomplishments, such as the work of Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Andrew Schally, who received the award in 1977 for discoveries relating to hormones. Today, nearly four decades later, Dr. Schally is still an active VA researcher, studying cancer, diabetes and heart disease at the Miami VA Medical Center.

“VA Research and Development plays a pivotal role in improving the health of Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “In addition, the advances in health care developed by VA have benefited millions of other Americans and patients worldwide.”

As part of the nation’s largest integrated health care system, VA research has unique opportunities to address some of the most critical issues in health care today.

“From the development of effective therapies for tuberculosis and implantable cardiac pacemakers, to the first successful liver transplant and the nicotine patch, VA’s trail-blazing research accomplishments are a source of great pride to VA and the nation,” said Dr. Timothy O’Leary, VA’s chief research and development officer.

“The impact of VA research on Veterans’ lives stretches back to the 1920s, when researchers reported on studies looking at treatments for malaria, the long-term health effects of chemical warfare, and mortality among Veterans with mental illness.”

90th anniversary seal

To learn more about the work of VA researchers, past and present, visit www.research.va.gov. For more information on local and national events marking National VA Research Week, visit http://www.research.va.gov/ResearchWeek/

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/May/90-Years-of-VA-Research-Improves-Veterans-Lives.asp

MESSAGE FROM THE SECRETARY – Memorial Day 2015








MESSAGE FROM THE SECRETARY – Memorial Day 2015

May 22, 2015, 01:22:00 PM





Printable Version




MESSAGE FROM THE SECRETARY


Memorial Day 2015


Many have heard the saying, “Poor is the Nation that has no heroes, but beggared is the Nation that has and forgets them.” 


 On this Memorial Day, let us pause to remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion for our Nation.  Let us remember the special nobility and grace of those who donned the uniforms of our country and sacrificed their lives during times of conflict.  Let us remember—as we renew our commitment to honor those we have lost—that, every day, dedicated men and women put their lives on the line to protect all of us.  We owe them all our deepest gratitude.


 Over 70 years ago, on June 6, 1944, 175,000 American, Canadian, and British troops spearheaded the Allies’ assault against the forces of tyranny threatening millions of people across Europe.  Exposed to devastating fire on the beaches of Normandy, those brave souls established a beachhead, began the Allied march across Europe, and sent a message of hope across the continent.  That message, writ large by the hands of heroes, signaled Freedom’s triumph over evil and the preface to peace for a world too long at war.


 From the opening rounds of the American Revolution, through the devastation of the Civil War, through World War I, World War II, and Korea, through Vietnam and Desert Storm, to those who have fought—and fight still today—so hard and valiantly in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than a million American Servicemembers have paid the ultimate price to secure the blessings of liberty for our Nation and our allies around the world.


 As many of our National Cemetery Administration employees prepare our cemeteries, our national shrines, and work on Memorial Day activities to welcome our guests, I encourage all of us to show our support for Veterans and honor those who have passed by attending or participating in an event at a national cemetery near you.  For a complete listing, please visit: http://www.cem.va.gov/CEM/cems/2015_Memorial_Day_Ceremonies.asp


 At VA, we honor those lost in the way we care for those who returned home—and for their families and Survivors.  Thank you for all that you do for Veterans.  It is a privilege to serve with each one of you in fulfilling our sacred mission.


 On this Memorial Day, may God bless our Veterans, their families, all of our VA employees and your families, and our great Nation.


 Robert A. McDonald


 




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Source Article from http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/PressArtInternet.cfm?id=2705


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