The VA’s New Holistic Approach

by Tony Chavira

I went to a conference for the Society of American Military Engineers this past week and was blown away by a great new project in Las Vegas that'll mark a whole new approach to VA healthcare for veterans.

First, here's an image of the new structure:

Ohhh... shiny.

After serving their time honorably, our veterans have returned home with a plethora of problems. But upon seeing the VA's track record for care over the past 40 years, a casual observer might think to themselves that our government is full is sick, sadistic bastards who treat our personal heroes like yesterday's garbage. But despite their faults, our current government and the Obama Administration--finally--are really trying to do right by our veterans and honor their service with the kind of healthcare they've always deserved. And this, the Department of Veteran Affairs', new mission--committing them to a lifelong, holistic healthcare approach--is demonstrated beautifully by Las Vegas's ultra-state-of-the-art medical facility, as well as new ones in development all over the country.

From the project's inception, the VA wanted to show their constituents that our country has a deep respect for what they've done, so--since the hospital is directly adjacent to the American Indian Paiute Tribe's land--months before ground-breaking in 2006 Paiute leaders blessed the ground during a holy ceremony which was attended by members of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Chemehuevi Tribes and several regional directors of the National American Indian Veterans, Inc.

Naturally, the structure was designed with the idea that some veterans will have to spend a great deal of time there to recover from the physical and mental strains of having served our country. Services and hospital movements will therefore happen in back-end corridors while the front-end corridors are kept bright, open, clean, peaceful and accessible for vet families. Natural light fills each room and beautiful images of the Nevada landscape can be seen from almost every room in the structure. It's even surrounded by courtyards, gardens, meditation areas and reflecting areas so that vets can retain some inner peace.

Just as importantly, some of the services the clinic provides might impress you considering they're provided by our government. For example, the building provides yoga, deep meditation classes and art and music therapy. The center also supports an alzheimer and dementia care center for older veterans, to send a clear message that VA care isn't limited to just helping vets recover from their wartime traumas.

What you might also find interesting, and what is relatively new for the VA, is that this hospital has high-tech mammography, ultra sound facilities and facilities for birthing. The plain truth is that there are more female veterans now than there have ever been, and having services for lifelong women's healthcare is a big step toward the future for the VA's scope of services.

Their new slogan (or at least the slogan the assistant director repeated over and over again during our presentation) is "This isn't your grandfather's VA," and from what I can see, that's very true. Older VA hospitals crammed our soldiers, with their various problems and afflictions, right next to each other like this:

...in buildings that looked like this:

Now all of the hustle of bustle of the hospital are put in corridors backstage, while our veterans get private rooms connected to social areas that look like this:

...in amazingly high-tech buildings that look like this:

You can be the judge of where you'd prefer that your husband, wife, son, daughter or grandpa recover. These changes are just the first in a long line of great steps the VA has taken forward, but in case you're no where near Las Vegas, there is likely a local VA office near you already adopting these practices.

Feel free and drop by to say "hi" to your local Veterans today and tell them how grateful you are for their service. And be sure to tell the staff how thoroughly impressed you are that government-provided healthcare can be can astonishing. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.

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