On National Vietnam War Veterans’ Day, the Uren-Cooper American Legion Post in Iron Mountain held a special commemoration event to honor and thank those who fought in the war and their families, including all veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces between November 1, 1955, and May 15, 1975.
At the event, representatives from the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center were present with important health outreach goals. Two of those representatives are serving new roles at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center.
A new public affairs specialist, Timothy Ellison, talked about a major priority for all veterans, especially those who were honored at the Legion post. He explained that the amount of presumptive conditions has been expanded under the PACT act, and it’s important for veterans to engage with the VA, even if they don’t have those conditions. The center will be screening for those conditions regularly. The PACT act is the new law that expands VA health care and benefits to veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxins.
The new director of the medical center, Dr. John P. Shealey, highlighted access to care, outreach, and special emphasis programs like the programs offered for women veterans as his major priorities. Dr. Shealey is looking ahead to the future of services and care at the VA Medical Center. Dr. Shealey will be executing an analysis over the next 3-6 months to strategically plan what areas of care services will be expanded. He handed out vietnam veteran lapel pins and thanked veterans for their service at the event.
Dr. Shealey, who joined as the new director in February at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical center, came to the Upper Peninsula from his role as the director for a large non-profit hospital system out of Des Moines, Iowa, where he has also served on the faculty of two universities. Dr. Shealey has managed fiscal budgets of over $400 million, and as an 8-year army veteran himself, missing the interactions with veterans is what drew him here to the U.P.
“I missed the veterans, and I missed working with them on a daily basis, doing events like this. So I think that’s really what drew me back in. It’s been my honor to come here to the Iron Mountain area. The veterans are wonderful, the staff here are absolutely wonderful. This makes the 6th VA in my career that I’ve worked in, and by far the Oscar G. Johnson is the best,” Dr. Shealey commented.
Several subject-matter experts were also present to provide information about different resources, including enrollment eligibility, the PACT act, and community resources like the Dickinson County Veterans Service Office.
The event was a way to honor and thank Vietnam War veterans for their bravery and sacrifice. The medical center representatives were able to provide important information and resources to those who attended. It was a day of remembrance and gratitude for all who were present.
Those looking for more information about the PACT Act can contact VA at 1-800-MyVA411 or visit www.va.gov/PACT.