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VANIHCS Therapy Department has Veteran’s Best Interest at Heart

Eugene Moore's journey through physical rehabilitation.
Eugene Moore, Air Force Veteran, suffered a stroke in 2019 and has been working hard to make physical gains.

Eugene Moore has been a patient of VA Northern Indiana Health Care System (VANIHCS) since 2004, and his physical and occupational therapist describe him as the “model patient”.

Moore is an Air Force Veteran, he served in first Gulf War as a Fabrication and Parachute Specialist from 1985-1993. At 31 years old, Moore suffered a spinal cord injury that ended his Air Force career during a softball game at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Moore would unfortunately suffer another medical tragedy, in 2019, he suffered a stroke and lost his ability to walk and the use of his left arm. After his stroke, Moore spent 9 months in a nursing home where he worked hard to get his strength back.

“I was told I have every right to be bitter and angry, but I choose to be positive and work hard,” said Moore.

Moore has been a patient of VANIHCS therapy department for several years now and has worked hard to make physical gains. The therapy staff says Moore always comes to therapy ready to give his best effort to achieve his therapy goals.

Over the years, Moore and the staff developed a special relationship. During his visits, Moore expressed that he had only been out of the house 3 or 4 times since 2019.

“We had been talking about opportunities to get him out into the community.We knew he liked music and that he would enjoy a concert from conversations in the clinic,” said Angela Reimer, Occupational Therapist.

Jodi and Angie, Moore’s occupational therapists, saw an advertisement that the Commodores were coming to town and set their plan into motion. Jodi reached out to friends who work the local venue and they happily donated V.I.P Commodores tickets to honor Mr. Moore’s military service.

“The next thing to address was getting him transported. We were going to stand pivot transfer him into one of our vehicles; and then use his standard wheelchair at the concert.  However, after more thought, I wanted him to be able to be in his power chair that gives him more independence and comfort. This is when we decided to rent a wheelchair accessible van and I am so thankful we did that,” said Reimer.

The staff picked up Moore and took him to dinner before the concert. Moore and the staff enjoyed a night of entertainment and each other’s company. Several other therapists attended the outing making the night extra special for Moore.

“I’ve never been treated so well, it felt so good to get out in society and I will never forget this night,” said Moore.

Moore’s outlook on life, his dedication to making improvements, and his ability to make quick lasting relationships is a reminder to all clinicians why they pursue degrees in healthcare.

“Taking Eugene out for the night was one of the best forms of therapy we could have provided him with, hopefully this outing gave him the confidence to become re-engaged in the community. I'm not sure who had more fun that night the therapy team or Eugene,” said Jodi Van Veld, Occupational Therapist.

The efforts of the VANIHCS staff go beyond the VA mission statement. They are truly dedicated to the Veterans, their Healthcare, and the Veteran experience.

I really love coming here, the staff has my best interest at heart, and you have to have a special heart to work in Physical and Occupational therapy”, said Moore.

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