Why is health care from the Veterans Administration (VA) important to veterans? At the onset of each appointment with a VA health provider, the patient is asked a series of questions -- not just about their health, but about the nature of their service. Did they serve in a combat zone? Were they exposed to Agent Orange, triggers for Gulf War Syndrome, or smoke from burn pits or petroleum fires? Do they suffer from any of a number of symptoms from post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, or sexual assault? How well do they sleep? Do they have bad dreams? Easily startled? Thoughts of suicide? The list goes on.

Yes, the fine staff at Syringa Hospital is committed to the overall health of their patients, but do they offer counseling for combat stress and the related problems of alcoholism and drug use? The VA does. The VA offers classes on stress reduction, diet and exercise, and healthy aging — specifically for veterans.

Data from a patient's visit to the VA helps with research into health problems faced by veterans of different eras of service which, in turn, is used to determine who is eligible for service-related benefits. There is so much more to care of a veteran than taking vitals and prescribing meds.

To have a topnotch veterans’ health care facility, as the Grangeville VA clinic is, close its doors when it is being fully utilized by the veterans’ community is a disservice to those who have served.

Jinny Cash

Grangeville

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