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VA helping the nations heroes age in place: Meaningful Moment

Mr. Harris working as an Aviation Maintenance Administration airman.
Mr. Harris working as an Aviation Maintenance Administration airman.

The North Florida/South Georgia VAMC strives to provide world-class health care in all aspects of the care provided to Veterans.

One such program of care is the Geriatric Evaluation Program, which evaluates the medical, psychosocial, and functional capability of the Veteran. The evaluation is used to develop a coordinated and integrated plan for Veteran geriatric patients.

The innovative program started after a 2018 OIG Inspection highlighted geriatric evaluation needed improvement. As a result, a pilot program was established with an interdisciplinary approach in which care is managed by a team of VA staff including a nurse, social worker, occupational therapist, pharmacists, and a geriatric provider. 

Through the efforts of GEP providing health care and service to Veterans, Linda a caregiver to her Veteran parents has benefited tremendously from this program. Linda serves as the primary caregiver for her parents, Charles and Shirley Harris, on a full-time basis and expressed her deepest appreciation for the program.  

Mrs. Harris joined the Navy in 1965 and served her country proudly for two years as a secretary stationed at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, FL.  It was there that she met the love of her life, Mr. Harris, who had already served in the Navy for 10 years.  

Mr. Harris served from 1955 to 1974 as an Aviation Maintenance Administration airman and retired as a Chief Petty Officer. He landed in Da Nang, Vietnam during the Vietnam War and served on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier, USS Shangri-La (CV/CVA/CVS-38), providing operational maintenance for the naval aircraft.  For two decades, he dedicated his life to ensuring Navy planes operated safely in the skies. Arguably, working on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier flight deck is considered the most dangerous job in the world. 

After his retirement from the Navy, they continued to enjoy life together in Jacksonville, Fla. When asked what they appreciate about their nearly 60 years of marriage, Mrs. Harris said, “He loves me no matter what.” After hearing that, Mr. Harris looked at his wife and stated, “She’s taken care of me ever since we’ve been married.” 

Linda, the daughter of the couple said, “I don’t know how long this geriatric screening program has been going on but don’t stop it! This is amazing. We just moved my parents in with us this past November so we can take care of them and it’s great to know there are programs like this to help the Veterans and for the family members to have someone to reach out to for help and support when they need it.” 

The main goal of the geriatric evaluation program is to help heroes age in place.  The program has had many positive reviews and the most recent Veteran Questionnaire resulted in 95% of Veterans being satisfied with the comprehensive geriatric evaluation they received. North Florida/South Georgia is proud to consistently provide world-class health care to Veterans with the support of families, caregivers and staff.