VA Pacific Islands Health Care System (VAPIHCS) will be closed on July 4th, which occurs this year on a Tuesday. However, we will still have regular hours in our clinics and our pharmacy on the Saturday preceding the holiday. I hope everyone has a happy and safe July 4th as we celebrate the birthday of our Nation.
July 4th is a sacred day in our country. It’s a day that we stand united because every American celebrates this day. Some Americans came into their freedom later than others. We didn’t start out as a perfect union and we still have a long distance to go. However, as I look at my staff and the Veterans we serve, I feel confident that we have the capacity, empathy, and integrity to take our country past the failures of our Founding Fathers and embrace the brilliance of our Declaration of Independence, which espouses liberty, justice, equality, and freedom.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
We must make these words in to the everyday realities of our country. We must make sure that all people have an experience that not only embodies, but enhances these words. Words have power and they must be operationalized in their meaning in order to make a difference in all of our lives and experiences. That means EVERYONE, not just a select few, or only those that you feel are worthy of acknowledgement. These words give us a goal to aspire to. A nation where all people are given the same chance in life for success, opportunities, and happiness in their pursuits. We realize this dream everyday at VAPIHCS, from celebrating our LGBTQ+ Veterans to recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. We are acknowledging an idea that was always promised; even when it was not fully realized. That idea is freedom and justice for ALL. I am proud of how far we have come as a Nation, and that VA is leading the way in recognizing the sacredness of all people, and treating every Veteran with dignity and respect. But make no mistake, this journey is far from complete.
The focus on my life, like many of you, has been on being of service to this great nation. I served for more than 35 years in the U.S. Navy and have spent my life since then in federal service, focusing on providing safe, compassionate, quality health care. I am proud of the work I have done, and the work that I continue to do as the Director of the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System.
The United States of America means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it means the freedom to speak out and say whatever is in your heart. For others, it is a safe place to come to from far-off shores. For me, it has been the foundation I built my life on, and the collection of ideals that I have always served with devotion and pride.
This country has changed a lot in the past few decades. We’re growing so much and learning to include everyone in our communities. I am proud of the work that we have done to become more inclusive, more tolerant, and empathetic. We are always stronger together. Our strength is a symbol of hope to the world. We exemplify a set of principles that give others something to aspire to.
We are ONE NATION, BLESSED by God, offering liberty and justice to all who live here. Mahalo to all at VAPIHCS for your tireless efforts to improve the health and lives of our Veterans. Happy July 4th to each and every one of you.
Dementia Care Professionals Month
Some parts of aging can be beautiful. There is joy in looking back on one’s accomplishments and having the time to pursue hobbies and things that make you happy. However, some parts of aging are difficult, and others are terrifying. Dementia is one part of aging that causes understandable fear in Veterans.
Speak with your doctor and create a plan together for your golden years. Ask your doctor for help filling out your advanced directive and planning for nursing home care if it may be needed. Making sure that your doctor knows what you want will ensure that your wishes can be followed even if you’re not able to state them down the road. Call 1-800-214-1306 today to make an appointment to talk about planning for aging.
It is Dementia Care Professionals Month, so this is also a good time to thank our staff who work with Dementia patients. Memory Care is both difficult and rewarding, and here at VAPIHCS we are grateful to all our health care professionals who work in Geriatrics and Memory Care. Thank you for all that you do.
Toxic Exposure Legislation – PACT ACT
In August of 2022, the President signed a law that allows Veterans exposed to toxic chemicals during their military service the ability to access expanded VA benefits. We have been holding Community Call events to enroll Veterans who are newly eligible. Our next event is in Guam on July 22, 2023, and July 23, 2023. We will be at Micronesia Mall at 1088 West Marine Corps Drive, Space 215AB, Center Court, 2nd floor (near the food court) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days. This event will include PACT Act registration, vaccines, blood pressure checks, diabetic foot checks, VA Benefits Assistance, and health screenings. Veterans in Guam should come see us at this event if they are already signed up with us, or if they need to sign up.
Thoughts from Chaplain Richie Charles
At about 1,400 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea has the lowest elevation and is the lowest body of water on the surface of Earth. Situated in between the borders of Jordan and Israel, it has managed to draw tourists from around the world ever since the ancient times. But how could such a renowned body of water be called “dead”? Well, the answer lies in the fact the Dead Sea is 10 times saltier than the ocean, so no life form, except bacteria, can survive in its waters. Fish carried in by the Jordan River die quickly in its waters.
The Dead Sea became this way because it has no outlet, no way to pass along the water it received to other bodies of water. So, though it used to receive large supplies of water from the Jordan River and other streams, the only way for water to escape that basin was through evaporation, leaving the waters more and more concentrated with salt and minerals.
With no outlet, and no way for it to pass along its rich minerals to other bodies of water, the Dead Sea was able to receive, but it was unable to give.
We too can reflect that throughout our lives, we have been recipients of many things – both tangible and intangible. But despite all that we have received, and continue to receive, many can testify that what helps make life meaningful are not merely what we receive in life, but what we’re able to give to others. Service is a form of giving, and it’s often true that when we use our talents and energies to benefit others, our own sense of personal fulfillment is enhanced. Though receiving from others can truly enhance one’s sense of happiness in the moment, there’s a deeper, even more profound sense of fulfillment that comes from allowing our lives to benefit others.
One Team, One Ohana!
Adam M. Robinson, Jr., MD, MBA, CPE
Director, VA Pacific Islands Health Care System
VADM, MC, USN, (RET)
36th Surgeon General, USN