Compiled by Frank Matranga

A VFW survey of nearly 11,000 veterans shows that an overwhelming majority of respondents want to see VA health care repaired and rejuvenated rather than junked in favor of private care.

VFW will “continue to debunk and reject radical policy proposals” that would negatively affect progress the VA has made, according to Our Care 2017: A Report Evaluating Veterans Health Care.

The VFW survey, conducted between Sept. 20 and Oct. 20, 2016, asked 10,801 veterans questions related to the following categories:

• Improvements to the VA health care system to better serve veterans.

• Evaluation of improvement at local VA health care facilities.

• Satisfaction with individual VA health care experiences.

• Self-reported wait times.

• Factors when choosing a health care provider.

• Locations veterans prefer to receive most of their health care.

In March, then-VFW Commander-in- Chief Brian Duffy said the “most important takeaway” from the survey is that the majority of respondents do not want to dismantle VA. Duffy said he believes that VA is on the right track, but there still is a lot of work to do. Hiring more doctors, holding people accountable, improving customer service and making VA programs and systems more user-friendly top the list.

VFW, according to Duffy, is willing to work with the White House to make these goals a reality.

Shingles awareness

This month, VA’s Women’s Health Services is dedicating a month-long awareness campaign to promote the shingles vaccine. The Shingles Vaccine Awareness campaign educates women veterans about their risk of developing shingles and reminds them that vaccinations are an important part of healthy aging.

Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body and affects almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, meaning anyone who has had chickenpox may develop shingles, with the risk increasing with age.

About half of all shingles cases occur in men and women 60 years or older. It is recommended that people 60 years or older get vaccinated for shingles, which reduces the risk of developing shingles by 51 percent and the long-term pain from post-hepatic neuralgia (PHN) by 67 percent.

Visit www.womenshealth.va.gov to access additional information, materials and resources for women veterans.

Honor and remembrance

The process of planning and fundraising is underway for a national memorial to the war on terrorism, Military Times reports. Hoping to ensure that the first generation of warriors who fought the war will be able to appreciate the memorial, supporters want lawmakers and veterans advocates to accelerate the building process.

“A 40-year-old service member who seized the first airfield in Kandahar in 2001 is now 56,” Andrew Brennan, executive director of the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation and a veteran of the Afghanistan War, told the Times. “Given that these efforts often take five to seven years, we’re in a position where that service member may be taking grandchildren to see the memorial for the war he fought in.”

In May, the American Legion’s National Executive Committee passed Resolution 16, which supports construction of a National Global War on Terror Memorial.

Military Times reports that no site or design has been selected yet, “because, under federal law, the project technically can’t go ahead until 10 years after the conflict ends.”

Given that the war on terrorism is an ongoing conflict, “supporters are looking for a waiver to the 10-year rule so they can start working now to honor the nearly 7,000 U.S. troops killed” on the many fronts of the war that began Sept. 11, 2001.

U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, who served two tours in Iraq, is sponsoring the waiver legislation.

Find out more online at gwotmemorialfoundation.org.

A bigger shield

Increasingly alarmed by North Korea’s full-tilt drive for long-range missiles, Congress is considering plans to fund construction of additional ground-based interceptor missiles on U.S. territory. The Hill reports Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, is pushing legislation that would add 28 new ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, which would increase their total number by more than 30 percent.

The United States currently fields a total of 30 interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Fort Greely in Alaska. Fourteen more will be added in Alaska by the end of 2017.

Our nation in mourning

These veterans died on these dates:

Johnny G. Kisling, 87, served in the U.S. Air Force; served most of his tour in North africa, mainly in Morocco, with military intelligence.

Tom Eggleston, 72, served in Vietnam. He used his GI Bill to obtain private pilot and helicopter pilot licenses.

A full military graveside service was performed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3154 Honor Guard for:

Kenneth “Ken” Loren Christensen Sr., 94, at Mountain Shadow Cemetery

Frank Matranga, of Sonora, served in the U.S. Air Force for nearly 40 years. If you have veterans’ information, call him at (209) 588-1926.

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