National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
OCE Partnership Impact
A partnership between a local Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center (VAMC) and its nearby American Red Cross chapter is helping Veterans who need access to transportation obtain timely health care services. As of December 2019, Red Cross volunteers circulate multiple parking locations at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VAMC in Walla Walla, Washington, to shuttle patients from their personal vehicles to the facility’s main entrance, all in the safety and comfort of a Red Cross utility vehicle.
Access to transportation is an example of what are collectively known as the social determinants of health (SDOH)—these are conditions in the places where Veterans live, work, and age. Support for positive SDOH—such as employment, housing, education, and many others—are linked to better health outcomes for Veterans. For that reason, SDOH is the theme of the 2020 VHA Community Partnership Challenge. This annual contest, led by the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA’s) Office of Community Engagement (OCE) highlights nonmonetary partnerships between VHA and nongovernmental organizations that serve Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors.
“The American Red Cross and its local chapters have a long-standing history of supporting service members and Veterans in their communities,” said Dr. Tracy L. Weistreich, acting director of OCE. “We know that fostering positive SDOH leads to improved quality of life, greater satisfaction, and reduced suicide risk. Partnerships such as this one are key to improving the health and well-being of our Veterans.”
Veterans can benefit from this collaboration if they experience limited physical mobility or have challenges with the weather conditions, such as when it is icy, rainy, or excessively cold or hot. Walla Walla VAMC Director Christopher Bjornberg said in a local news story that this free service “is nice for somebody that has to park a little bit further and they’re a little unsteady on their feet.”
The Red Cross is among many local organizations in the Walla Walla Valley that have a history of supporting the southeastern Washington area’s more than 4,000 Veterans. An all-day appreciation event at the local fairgrounds each October connects hundreds of military families with businesses and nonprofits that offer them free services such as legal advice, workforce re-entry support, and chiropractic and dental care.
OCE is a trusted resource and a catalyst for the growth of effective partnerships at the national, state, and community level. Partnerships supported by OCE contribute to Veterans’ health and well-being. For more on OCE’s work, please visit https://www.va.gov/healthpartnerships.
Posted March 10, 2020