LAUGHLIN — Veterans from around the Tri-state attended the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System meeting on Friday afternoon at Laughlin American Legion Post 60.

The meeting allowed veterans to receive an update on the Mission Act, VA service, care to the Laughlin community and the overall VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System. 

Under the new VA Mission Act, the goal is to provide more accessible health care, including working with non-VA medical providers and telehealth through phone or computer.

“The recurring theme here is just getting access to healthcare in the rural community,” said Ramu Komanduri, chief of staff of VA Hospital in Las Vegas. “We know this is a growing, popular area for veterans. We need to get healthcare professionals down here.”

The VA is performing telehealth at the local VA Laughlin Rural Outreach Clinic. However, the agency seeks more face to face opportunities in the area as well as providing more incentives to recruit more staff and partner with other local healthcare systems in Bullhead City.

“To ultimately get the face to face part, we need to do a national effort,” Komanduri said. “That’s why we need to provide training programs and other opportunities for doctors to get used to this area and get comfortable.”

“We need to incentivize it.  We were paying student loans off and other things, but we need to come up with other ways to get them here.”

The VA Southern Nevada Healthcare system is working with medical universities in and near Las Vegas. 

The VA and the hospitals are building residency programs to get more doctors that hopefully will expand the pool of health professionals in the region. 

Kamonduri said officials also are recruiting across the country to attract more professionals to come to Las Vegas and the Laughlin/Bullhead City area.

“It’s not an easy thing to do but we are working all the time,” Komanduri said.

Since Larry Adams moved to the Fort Mohave from Los Angles three years ago, he never has seen the same doctor. He often has to drive to Las Vegas for his VA appointments and medication and needs to find time to get into the Laughlin clinic to get blood work done.

He also is having problems enrolling in his programs because the system still thinks he lives in Los Angles.

“Fortunately, I am a little younger than the rest of the crowd,” Adams said. “I know these guys have more headaches than I do, but I am not using everything 100% like I want to.”

Blue Water veterans can start submitting claims for veterans who have conditions recognized by the VA to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Some recognized conditions are lung cancer, prostate cancer, Parkinson’s and ischemic heart disease. 

If a Blue Water veteran has died, but the spouse is still alive, the spouse may be entitled to benefits.

The VA Laughlin Rural Outreach Clinic is functioning at office capacity. Two teams are there, primarily focusing on telemedicine.  

There also is a veteran service officer who comes to the Laughlin American Legion the last Tuesday of each month. Personnel are there from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

(1) comment

BWNA

While passing HR299 it is a good thing and it will help many Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans, In is a sad state of affairs when something becomes Political when it shouldn’t. The latest example is the passing of HR299, The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. Here we have a Bill that is suppose to help Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange. Yes it has been signed into law and will take effect on January 1, 2020 and it will help some Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans but it won’t help others that were going to be helped after the Procopio Ruling was handed down. We have the Leadership of Congress and the large VSO running around patting themselves on their backs for passing of the Bill. However there are some groups missing, both Military Veterans Advocacy and Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association are missing from all of the Media dealing with HR299. These are two of the groups that have worked the hardest and always stayed on course with the Bill, yet the Leadership in Congress and the large VSOs are ignoring them. Could this be because of the fact that they are the two groups pointing out the major problem with HR299, that will limit the Procopio Ruling just because of the word “Offshore” in HR299. We are the ones that haven’t changed the way we feel about this issue. In the last session of Congress we were pushing HR299 and the Big VSOs had a problem with the funding, well until it appeared that there was no stopping the Bill. They were fighting against it, if you don’t believe it check last year. They were against the Pay For. They fought it for the longest time until it appeared it was going to pass the House, then they came out for it. Why would they do that? Was it so they could take credit for it, or is it something else? Then this session of Congress after the Procopio Ruling was announced, the VSOs decides to start supporting HR299 when in fact HR299 was no longer needed. But the VSOs decided that they need to “PROTECT” the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans by putting in the Geographic Points. It doesn’t take a Legal Expert to see that by defining the Geographic Points and calling them “Offshore” will limit the Procopio Ruling. My question is, didn’t they have their Lawyers read the Bill and the Procopio Ruling, I don’t think so. They just wanted to show they are going to “PROTECT” the Blue Water Navy Vietnams and now it is going to hurt those that are covered under the Procopio Ruling. The Procopio Ruling states that “Offshore” is farther out than the Geographical Points known as the Territorial Seas. Could the actually reasons why they would not change the wording be due to money. Are Congress and the large VSO working together to make sure that the cost of the Bill doesn’t go any higher. Or are the two groups working together for other reasons, like I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. Now it gets even worse. On July 1, 2019 Secretary Wilkie of the VeteransAdministration decided to issue a Stay. In the VA statement, Secretary Wilkie states “VA is dedicated to ensuring that all veterans receive the benefits they have earned,” Wilkie said in a statement. “We are working to ensure that we have the proper resources in place to meet the needs of our Blue Water veteran community and MINIMIZE THE IMPACT ON ALL VETERANS FILING FOR DISABILITY COMPENSATION.” To me he is saying, just so we don’t impact other Veterans we are just going to delay The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans, AFTER ALL THEY ARE USED TO IT. My feeling is if it that important for the Leadership of Congress and the Big VSOs to leave Blue Water Navy Association out of everything, then fine, I hope they remember to take the credit when early next year when Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans find out that just because their ship was just outside by a couple of miles the Geographical Points that they are no longer covered but they would of been covered if Procopio Ruling, had S1195 passed or just changed the word “Offshore” in HR299. If they think we are going to give up they are wrong. We will Continue the fight for veterans rights. Mike Yates National Commander Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association commander@bluewaternavy.org 702-769-4973 Continuing the fight for veterans rights

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