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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs


VA Online Modules Focus on Special Health Concerns of Veterans

September 18, 2002, 08:00:00 AM

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WASHINGTON -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has developed a set of in- depth continuing education courses for health care professionals on the unique health issues of veterans through a special program known as the Veterans Health Initiative (VHI).

“We have talented, dedicated health care providers in the VA system,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi.  “However, very often they have no military experience of their own from which to draw insights.  The Veterans Health Initiative is an effort to help them understand some of the health concerns that can arise from military service, including illnesses relating to combat and different climates and settings.”

    VHI independent study modules are written for health professionals and are available on the Internet at  Topics available so far include:

  • Agent Orange 
  • Cold injuries 
  • Gulf War illnesses 
  • Hearing impairment 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • Prisoner of war issues 
  • Radiation-related illnesses 
  • Spinal cord injury 
  • Traumatic amputation and prosthetics 
  • Visual impairment and blindness

The modules feature photos of military scenes, illustrations, bibliographies and, in some cases, first-hand accounts by veterans, in addition to a review of medical management of the condition.  At the end, readers can take an online test on their knowledge of the subject.

"Having a better understanding of how certain health problems are linked to military service and the recommended evaluation and treatment approaches will enhance care for veterans,” said Dr. Susan Mather, VA’s public health and environmental hazards chief officer, whose staff is spearheading the VHI with the help of experts throughout VA and in collaboration with VA’s Employee Education System.  

“Health care providers from VA and the Department of Defense can earn continuing education credits for completing the modules, but all health care professionals who care for veterans will gain from reading the material,” Mather added.

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