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Opinion

VA Maryland Health Care System is ready to help

On Veterans Day we salute and honor the men and women who have served in the United States armed forces. It's a day we reflect on the contributions and sacrifices of service members and their families and demonstrate that our gratitude toward veterans is more than mere words.

On Veterans Day, ceremonies are held across the country as we pause to honor those patriots who have safeguarded our liberty. From Bunker Hill to Baghdad, we are the beneficiaries of their vigilance and determination to uphold the democratic beliefs on which our nation was founded. What better way to thank veterans than to make sure they receive the care and support they need when they need it?

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Readjusting to civilian life is not always easy for some veterans, but the VA Maryland Health Care System can help to make that transition seamless and smooth. We have a team ready to assist post-9/11 service members by coordinating their care and guiding them to the appropriate support programs. We also have specialized services and personnel ready to assist the unique needs of all veterans regardless of their era of military service.

Earlier this year, the VA Maryland Health Care System experienced an unprecedented loss of primary care providers that resulted in a temporary increase in wait times for new patients to get a primary care appointment. We apologize if these delays created any hardships for our new patients, but we immediately implemented an aggressive action plan to resolve this issue. The plan included reinstituting Saturday primary care clinic hours, hiring 13 new primary care providers and increasing the capacity for primary care clinic appointments. It also included partnering with Evergreen Health Care to offer new patients a primary care appointment within a week.

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While this has been a challenging time for the VA Maryland Health Care System, we have remained committed to our mission of providing safe, quality and compassionate care to veterans.

If you know a veteran who needs assistance, please encourage them to enroll for VA health care by visiting any VA Maryland Health Care System facility, by contacting our Enrollment Center at 1-800-463-6295, ext. 7324, or by visiting our website at maryland.va.gov and clicking on "Become a Patient."

Our veterans served us well, and now it is our turn to serve them.

Dennis H. Smith, Baltimore

The writer is director of the VA Maryland Health Care System.


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