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January/February 2010

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VETERANS HEALTHCARE COMMITTEE REPORT

Media Advocacy

BY PAT BESSIGAMO, CHAIR

We have just finished an exciting year for VVA as far as health care is concerned. The Veterans Health Council has increased its membership, and VVA is being recognized as a frontrunner among the “go-to” people for information on veterans’ health issues. However, I was very disappointed during the month of December that almost the entire month was devoted to TV, magazine, and news articles regarding one celebrity’s marital decline. 

Some say this is what people want. But I have more faith in people. I believe that all of us would rather hear about veterans’ health care, and that we would rather read articles about the meaning of ischemic heart disease and how it will relate to benefits for Vietnam veterans and how Vietnam veterans will be compensated for Parkinson’s disease. 

I believe that articles and news programs should describe the illnesses associated with those young men and women who have served after us and should describe VA advances in artificial limbs and the resources available to a young veteran in his struggles with PTSD. We should care about programs and articles dealing with the growing numbers of suicides of our younger military members and how they and their families can seek help.

I am asking all of our readers to hold the media to a higher standard in 2010. Write to the networks and the newspapers and let them know that you want equal time given to veterans’ issues. We need more reporting such as Oprah’s segment on her trip to Walter Reed. We need more reporting on the issues of maintaining medical records from private-sector physicians and hospitals. And we need to request that all physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants take a proper medical history both in the VA and in the private health care sector.

 

 

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