Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence
Memorandum of Agreement between National MS Society and VA
Coleen Friedman, MSW -- Director, Targeted Healthcare Provider Engagement, National MS Society
On March 6, 2019 the National MS Society and the VA signed a four-year Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to work together to benefit Veterans with MS.
How will Veterans living with MS benefit from this agreement?
First proposed in 2012, discussions about the creation of a formal MoA was led by Donald Higgins, Jr, MD, National Director of Neurology for VA Specialty Care Services. Leaders of both organizations realized that their resources and expertise could be employed to their fullest impact for Veterans and others affected by MS and their providers by working together. The signing of the MoA was attended by Laurence Meyer, MD, PhD, Chief Consultant for VA Specialty Care Services, and Cyndi Zagieboylo, MS Society President and CEO.
While the VA has been associated with the MS Society for many years through the VA MS Centers of Excellence (MSCoE), this MoA is a key strategic partnership. The mission of the MS Society is for people with MS to live their best lives as we stop MS in its tracks, restore what has been lost, and end MS forever. To that end, one of our core strategies is to ensure comprehensive high-quality healthcare to the almost one-million people with MS in the United States. Of those, it is estimated that up to 60,000 are Veterans diagnosed with MS. The MSCoE were established in 2003 to develop a national network of healthcare professionals and standards of care for Veterans with MS. Now, with a formal agreement, Veterans can continue to receive MS care through the VA and take advantage of the many other opportunities for support, education, and connection through the MS Society.
The MS Society provides a wide range of programs and support for people living with MS.
There are in-person programs and support groups throughout the country in addition to the MS Society’s vast array of online educational and support programs. For example, Pathways to a Cure is an in-person program which provides updates on the latest research, information about community resources, and opportunities to connect with others living with MS. Relationship Matters is a couples’ communication program, which will be offered in one or two-day formats. Or Veterans can access online programs, such as Everyday Matters, to build emotional well-being and resilience in the face of MS. MS Society programs can be found through a direct link on the MSCoE website at provider and Veteran.
The MS Society’s signature MS Navigator program is available to Veterans to access additional resources to live their lives with MS. MS Navigators serve as supportive partners to find sustainable solutions to the challenges of MS. Compassionate professionals will assess for, and provide access to personalized and intensive case management services through the Edward M. Dowd Personal Advocate Program when the scope of need is complex and support systems are lacking. Call 800-344-4867 or e-mail CONTACTUSNMSS@nmss.org to reach a MS Navigator. Last year 50,000 people connected with a MS Society Service Navigator; 87% of those who responded to the satisfaction survey reported that they were better equipped to manage challenges and/or take specific action in their current situation.
Veterans will also benefit through the collaborative efforts of MSCoE and the MS Society to offer professional education for healthcare providers caring for our nation’s Veterans. Hundreds of VA and non-VA healthcare providers across the country have participated in our free programs to learn the latest information about MS. Together, we will strive to ensure people with MS have the information and resources to live their best life.
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