Zachary M. Sage, Executive Director of the Marion VA Health Care System reflects on his approaching first year anniversary serving the Veterans treated by the Marion VA Health Care System.
On this Veterans Day, I am writing this letter to share my sincere appreciation for your military service and sacrifices for our freedom. As the Executive Director of the Marion VA Health Care System, it is my great honor to serve you and my team of more than 1,600 staff who truly believe each day is Veterans Day.
Almost one year ago, my family relocated to southern Illinois for my current role with VA. Marion and the surrounding area quickly felt like home. My work with the Marion VA Health Care System began immediately with a few priorities: Reconnect with our Veteran community and partners post-pandemic, educate Veterans about the PACT Act, and advancing VA’s goals to provide Veterans high-quality health care.
Over the last 11 months, countless outreach events, Veterans Resource Fairs, Hiring Fairs, our region’s first Veteran Suicide Prevention Summit, and seven PACT Act Town Halls occurred across southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and in southwestern Indiana. Veterans, family members, and several survivors, came in great numbers to learn about this new law and the financial and healthcare benefits now available. Since December 2022, the Marion VA Health Care System performed more than 28,000 Toxic Exposure Screenings. More than 43% of those screened reported exposure concerns (including burn pits and Agent Orange). From this work in our communities, it is clear to me Veterans from all eras are gaining VA benefits because of the PACT Act. If you are a Veteran who has not yet considered your VA benefits (especially regarding the PACT Act), please reach out to the VA, a Veteran Service Organization, or your state’s Department of Veterans Affairs, and begin the conversation about how VA can serve you.
Finally, I am pleased to report the Marion VA Health Care System continues to modernize our facilities to ensure our ability to provide the high-quality, safe care Veterans deserve. Within the next few months, new operating rooms and a new laboratory will open, construction will begin on a new Primary Care and Women’s Health Clinic, and a new clinic in Vincennes, Indiana, will begin serving Veterans. I am especially excited to announce that the Marion VA Health Care System will begin providing long-term nursing home care at our Community Living Center in Marion within the next few weeks. Our hospital in Marion is one of the top-rated in our region, achieving a 4-out-of-5 overall star rating from Medicare.gov for our care quality and patient satisfaction scores.
President Truman captured the essence of my passion for serving Veterans in 1945: “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. Because of these sacrifices, the dawn of justice and freedom throughout the world slowly casts its gleam across the horizon”. It is a great honor to serve you.
In your debt and service,
Zachary M. Sage
Marion VA Health Care System