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  • VAnguard

    July/August 2006 1


    July/August 2006

    Glasses for Homeless VetsWomen Employees in Harms Way

    VAs Newest Shrine

    The Search for Our World War I Vets

    Glasses for Homeless VetsWomen Employees in Harms Way

    VAs Newest Shrine

    The Search for Our World War I Vets

  • VAnguard

    2 July/August 2006


    Serving in Harms Way 6Part 2 of women employees deployed in the war on terrorPreparing for the Next One 12Facilities in hurricane-prone areas are ready for the 2006 seasonVAs Newest Shrine 14Georgia National Cemetery is dedicated in a June ceremonySeeing a Way Out of Homelessness 16A pilot program is helping to restore the vision of homeless veteransWrapping Up the Diamond Jubilee 18VAs yearlong celebration of its 75th anniversary concludesThe Search for Our World War I Veterans 21Time is running out to find and recognize the last of a vanishing breedPrivacy & Security Awareness Week 23A look at how facilities around the country observed the eventThe National Veterans Wheelchair Games 32Ever wonder what it takes to put on this major event?


    3 Letters4 From the Secretary5 Outlook24 Around Headquarters27 Introducing28 Medical Advances29 Honors30 Have You Heard




    VAnguardVAs Employee MagazineJuly/August 2006Vol. LII, No. 4

    Printed on 50% recycled paper

    Editor: Lisa RespessAssistant Editor/Senior Writer: Renee McElveenPhoto Editor: Robert TurtilPublished by the Office of Public Affairs (80D)

    U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs810 Vermont Ave., N.W.Washington, D.C. 20420(202) 273-5746E-mail:

    On the coverFormerly homeless veteran Gary Braceygets an eye exam at the Baltimore VA Medi-cal Center. He is one of the beneficiaries ofa pilot program at the Baltimore VAMC andfour other VA medical centers that is pro-viding glasses for homeless veterans whowould not normally qualify for VA by Robert Turtil

  • VAnguard

    July/August 2006 3


    Have a comment on something youve seen inVAnguard? We invite reader feedback. Send your com-ments to You can also write to us at:VAnguard, Office of Public Affairs (80D), Departmentof Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave., N.W., Wash-ington, D.C., 20420, or fax your letter to (202) 273-6702. Include your name, title and VA facility. Wewont be able to publish every letter, but well use rep-resentative ones. We may need to edit your letter forlength or clarity.

    We Want to Hear from You

    Warning Labels onFast Foods?When I have an appointmentat the VA hospital, I like toget there early in order to readthe veterans magazines. Thistime I picked up the March/April issue of VAnguard andread an article by the Secretaryof Veterans Affairs, Mr.Nicholson, about the prob-lems of obesity and diabetesamong veterans, as well as thegeneral population. The articlewent on to say that nationally,

    64 percent of Americans areoverweight or obese, and 7percent (or 20.8 million) havediabetes. Among veterans, itsaid, these figures are higher,and the reason for this was theemergence of the factoryfarm/fast food industry as wellas processed foods, whichcontain large doses of salt, fatand sugar.

    In a separate study of In-diana residents, the obesityrate has gone from 25.5 per-cent in 2004 to 27.3 percent

    in 2005.These increases are noth-

    ing new. People who arehealth conscious have knownthis for years. What is new isthat this is the first time a gov-ernment official has publiclystated this message. It seemsthat since the beef industrysued Oprah Winfrey, peopleof influence have been reluc-tant to publicly state thehealth hazards of the factoryfarm/fast food industry.

    Documentaries such asSuper Size Me and bookssuch as Fast Food Nation, al-though critically acclaimed, golargely ignored by the public.Why? Some people have triedto claim that their obesity is adisease due to their addictionto fast foods. Why do peoplewho know something is harm-ful to them do it anyway?Maybe there is something infast foods that is just as addic-tive as cigarettes and alcohol.

    Nutritionists say that weshould frequent fast-food res-taurants no more than once amonth. The FDA is now pro-posing that all restaurants (Ibelieve they are doing this be-cause they cant single out fast-food restaurants) provide nu-trition labels on what they sell.Maybe what we need arewarning labels on fast foods,the same as cigarettes.

    Ray WilsonNew Middletown, Ind.

    Retired and Still ServingDuring my more than 27years of service with the U.S.Army, I have had many occa-sions to use VA medical ser-vices. I can say for myself, theservice was always of the bestquality and I was treated withrespect.

    I retired as of January2006 and am now a disabledvet. I now have the honor ofbeing part of the VA team as aprogram support specialist atthe Vocational Rehabilitationand Employment office inFort Lauderdale, Fla.

    I am pleased each daythat I can now help my fellowdisabled vets by helping thevery professional staff with thedaily office administrativefunctions, thus allowing thecounselors to have more timeto devote to my fellow dis-abled vets.

    Jerry AbneyProgram Support Specialist

    VR&E OfficeFort Lauderdale, Fla.

    Robert Nez of the Navajo Nation dances with others in the AmericanIndian Veterans Gourd Dance performed June 29 at the New MexicoVA Health Care System in Albuquerque. Known as a warriorsdance, the gourd dance honors all veterans. Nez has been a gourddancer for 11 years. He dances in honor of two uncles who died inWorld War II. The dance was sponsored by the New Mexico VAs Na-tive American Special Emphasis Committee.

    Dance of Honor



    Credits for two photographswe ran in the May/June issuewere incorrect. The photo onpage 18 was taken by JRGarza; the photo on page 21was taken by AmandaStanislaw.

  • VAnguardfrom the secretary

    4 July/August 2006

    into the next era of VA ser-vice, not the least of which isaddressing our handling ofsensitive veteran data. Thetheft of VA data earlier thisyear was a wake-up call forour entire agency, and we havealready taken a number ofsteps to remedy the situationand improve on it. Our goal issimple: for VA to become thegold standard for informationand data security, and to be-come as widely respected forthis as we are for our elec-tronic medical records.

    There always is and al-ways will be more to do, and Ihave every confidence that VA

    will rise to this challenge. Be itincreased vigilance with sensi-tive information, compassion-ate health care, providing ben-efits to injured veterans orconducting a fitting burial fora homeless veteran, VA hasbeen there for more than 75years and we will continue tobe there for the next 75.

    It is an honor for us toserve together those whoserved us in uniform. We arethe agents of a grateful nation,who take great pride in fulfill-ing our noble mission.

    The Yearlong Observance of VAs 75th AnniversaryJim NicholsonSecretary of Veterans Affairs

    The Diamond Jubilee was a smashing success and I couldnot have been more proud of the participation andeffort of VA staff from Maine to Manila.

    The Diamond Jubilee of theDepartment of Veterans Af-fairs was a smashing successand I could not have beenmore proud of the participa-tion and effort of VA stafffrom Maine to Manila.

    From the opening mo-ments of our kick-off cer-emony at Constitution Hall inWashington, D.C., last July tothe finale in the Capitol Ro-tunda this July, the yearlongobservance of VAs 75th anni-versary highlighted the manyachievements of VA and ourdedicated employees, andshowcased the proud legacy ofour service to veterans.

    Now, we begin this nextperiod of VA history on solidfooting. The safety and effi-ciency of our electronic healthrecords was recognized in Julyby Harvard University, whichawarded VA the very presti-gious Innovations in Govern-ment Award. More than 1,000entries competed for thishonor but at the end of theday, it was VA and our healthcare technology that were rec-ognized for excellence.

    Awards are a fine testa-ment to things done well, butthe practical aspects of ourelectronic health records andprescription drug programswhich save lives every dayare also being increasingly rec-ognized by the media and theAmerican public.

    Just days after VA re-ceived the Harvard award, theInstitute of Medicine issued areport on prescription drug er-rors in American health careand a number of news agen-cies, including ABC WorldNews Tonight and the Los An-

    geles Times, came to VA forcomment. As one reporter putit, VA was included in theirnews coverage as an exampleof somebody who does itright.

    The headline of a six-page Business Week article onVA health care called it TheBest Medical Care in theU.S., and U.S. News & WorldReport published an articlethat called VA hospitals mod-els of top-notch care. Clearly,our anniversary year was onein which our fine reputationgrew and received the recogni-tion it deserved.

    During our 75th anniver-

    sary year, VA reached an im-portant milestone in anotherway. The agency guaranteedits 18 millionth home loan aspart of a program that hasloomed large in making theUnited States a nation ofhomeowners. This 18 mil-lionth home loan guaranteewent to a young family inTexas and it exemplifies notonly our service to veteransbut VAs positive impact onthe nation and its economy.

    Homeownership is a cor-nerstone of the AmericanDream and VA has been inthe forefront of making thisdream a reality ever sinceFranklin Roosevelt signed theGI Bi