On behalf of the employees and volunteers at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Maryland Health Care System, I would like to thank our veterans for their military service and to wish them and their families a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.
Without their service and sacrifice, without their defending the freedoms we all enjoy, without the wrenching vacuum and painful separations their families endured at the home front during their service, our lives would be much different. We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude that can never be adequately paid.
The holiday season fills our schedule with the hustle and bustle of finding the perfect gifts for our family and friends. During this time of year, it is also important to remind all veterans not to overlook the greatest gift of all — their good health. If you know a veteran who is not yet enrolled for VA health care, please encourage them to do so by visiting us online at www.maryland.va.gov, by calling our Enrollment Office at 1-800-463-6295, ext. 7342, or by visiting their nearest VA medical center or outpatient clinic.
Enrolling for VA health care may be the greatest gift veterans can give their family and friends by ensuring their continued good health and well-being. This is especially true of our younger veterans returning from deployment who can face difficulties reintegrating into their communities.
The VA Maryland Health Care System’s special program for returning veterans can help, but veterans must enroll to take advantage of the services available to them. Incredibly, some veterans don’t even realize that they are eligible for these services. More incredibly, many female veterans do not consider themselves veterans or misguidedly think that VA health care is for men. VA health care is for all veterans who have served our nation in uniform. They just need to visit our web site at www.maryland.va.gov and click on the blue “Become a Patient” button near the top of the page to get started.
This is also true for aging veterans, many of whom do not realize that the VA offers a variety of long-term care programs and services. The VA Maryland Health Care System’s Long Term Care Information Line at 1-800-949-1003, ext. 1121, can provide important answers for veterans and family members struggling with age-related issues.
The VA Maryland Health Care can help with a variety of health issues, whether it’s weight loss, smoking cessation, to kick a drug habit, manage diabetes, battle HIV/AIDS, or achieve any of the markers of good health. Additionally, the benefits of being among other veterans with similar experiences far outweigh trying to carry the load alone. During this holiday season, telling a veteran about VA health care may be the greatest gift of all.
Dennis H. Smith
Director, VA Maryland Health Care System