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A Medical Center here to help all vets

Date: 11/2/2010

Since coming to the Northampton VA Medical Center as Director in January, I have been privileged to work with dedicated staff and volunteers who provide our patients with the highest quality healthcare and services. Our medical center, as a member of the VA New England Healthcare System, provides comprehensive coverage of health services including preventive and primary care, hospitalization benefits, specialty, ambulatory, and mental health services.

Care is offered at our main campus in Leeds, as well as at our community based outpatient clinics in Greenfield, Pittsfield and Springfield. In the past year, we have expanded many of the services provided at these locations, including comprehensive women's health and mental health. Our home based primary care program, helping veterans maintain high quality of life in their homes, has grown in the Springfield area and is now taking patients in Northampton. Our collaboration with community partners continues as we support VA's promise to end veteran homelessness. We are actively educating enrolled veterans about VA's award-winning electronic website, My Healthy Vet, which provides healthcare information to Veterans and active duty service members 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I am proud that our medical center continues to score in the top ten percent of health care quality indicators, according to the Office of Quality and Performance. A few examples of these are screening for breast and colorectal cancer, screening for cholesterol in patients with ccardiovascular cconditions and diabetes; controlling high blood pressure; smoking cessation; and immunizations including seasonal flu shots.

During the past year, I have personally been involved with many outreach activities, in an effort to let the community know about VA healthcare. In doing so, I have had the opportunity to meet many veterans, hear their concerns and answer their questions.

One particular message I have conveyed is that our newest veterans can receive free medical care for any condition related to their service in the Iraq/Afghanistan theater for five years after the date of their discharge or release. However, in order to take advantage of these benefits, they need to enroll in VA's healthcare system.

Anyone who has served in the military may be eligible for VA healthcare. In many cases, this care is free; otherwise, it is offered at minimal cost. Veterans who would like to learn more about VA healthcare can call our eligibility office at 582-3091, or go to our website at

As Veterans Day approaches, let us all take the time to thank the Veterans we encounter for their service to our country. They put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. America's veterans have earned and deserve our respect and appreciation for their sacrifices. Each and every day, but especially during this time of year, we at Northampton VAMC continue to be mindful of the vital mission that has been entrusted to us.

Roger Johnson

Director, Northampton VA Medical Center in Leeds