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Director's Message March 1, 2024

Dr. Adam Robinson, director VAPIHCS

VAPIHCS Veterans, At VA Pacific Islands Health Care System (VAPIHCS), our employees work in different ways to serve our mission of helping Veterans.

 In March, we celebrate National Social Work Month, and highlight the key role that social workers play in implementing some of VA’s most urgent priorities. 

At a national level, the Secretary of the VA - the honorable Denis McDonough - has set forth a priority to get homeless Veterans housed. Locally, respected community member and Veteran Dr. John Henry Felix started a task force - of which I co-chair – which includes gathering support and community resources to reach out to homeless Veterans, and Veterans in danger of becoming homeless. This is a key priority for me personally, as well as for our community and our leadership in Washington. 

Many people contribute to the process of getting Veterans housed, but the driving force connecting Veterans with assistance programs is often a social worker. They work with Veterans and help them find their way to a better life. Social workers are patient and kind, and they work hard to listen to each Veteran and determine the best way to help them. They assist in explaining application processes and helping Veterans navigate and connect to different programs to get the help they need. 

I am so proud of the work that our social workers do. They never hesitate to go out into the community and meet Veterans where they are. They work with people suffering from mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse, and other difficulties, and they help them get the care they need without judgment or prejudice. Social workers are on the front lines every day fighting for the men and women who fought for our freedom; to help them through the adjustment to civilian life, and to allow them to flourish, even if they face adversity. 

Social Workers are trained to assess a Veterans’ situation and connect them with programs like Compensated Work Therapy and Intimate Partner Violence Prevention. Their work doesn’t stop there; they check in with their Veterans and ensure that they are getting the help they need and utilizing these programs to their full potential. The work they do is difficult, and it’s important to recognize what they do for us. 

We celebrate Social Workers in March, but I appreciate them every day. Please take some time this month to thank a social worker for all that they do. Happy Social Work Month!

Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is also Brain Injury Awareness month, and our focus this year is sharing information about Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). If you have a head injury, your first stop should always be an emergency room. However, once you have been evaluated and released, VAPIHCS has a capable team of specialists who work with TBI patients. With most TBIs, symptoms will fade within the first six to twelve months. Our team can help Veterans manage symptoms until they recover. In the cases where symptoms of a TBI persist longer than six months, it is still possible to learn coping strategies to manage symptoms, and our team will pull in whatever specialists they need to ensure that each Veteran can live their best life. 

Upcoming Closures

The Spark Matsunaga Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) will be closed on Saturday, March 9, 2024, and Sunday, March 10, 2023, and Saturday, March 16, 2024, and Sunday, March 17, 2024. We will be working to make improvements to the building in order to serve you better. 

Parking Structure Closure

As we seek to make repairs and deliver the best care possible, we will be making repairs to the VA parking structure, building 32, at our Honolulu location. These repairs will require the closure of the entire 4th floor of the structure from March 18, 2024, to May 12, 2024. Please plan accordingly.

Upcoming Events

VAPIHCS Employees will attend the Ho’ike Mana health fair in Moloka’i, put on by Na Pu’uwai from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, 2024. The event will be at the Kiowe’a Park (Coconut Grove), and we will offer registration services and information to all Moloka’i Veterans. We hope to see you there.

We will have a PACT Act Community Call at the Kauai Veterans Center, located at 3215 Kauai Veterans Memorial Highway, Lihue, HI 96766, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, 2024, and Thursday, March 28, 2024. We will offer vaccines, PACT Act registration and enrollment services, health services, and more. For questions about our upcoming events, please call 1-800-214-1306.

Thoughts from Chaplain Jewel Davis

Otis Redding, the musician, and legend was born in Dawson, Georgia, September 9, 1941. He had a dream to sing music that would cut straight to the hearts and souls of his listeners.  He wanted his music to make people feel alive.  He was raised in Macon, Georgia, learned to sing in church, and improved his art by singing on the streets.  After winning the Douglas Theatre talent show 15 consecutive times, he was disqualified from competing.  During his 10th-grade year, Mr. Redding dropped out of high school to help provide financial support to his struggling family. He worked as a gas station attendant, a driver, and musician before eventually joining Little Richard’s band, the Upsetters. He honed his craft by traveling and performing in small clubs in the southern states.

In his early twenties, when Mr. Redding got the opportunity to record at Stax Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, the studio’s owner, Jim Stewart, was so impressed with his vocal skills that he offered Mr. Redding a contract. From there, Mr. Redding launched into his professional career. He became one of the most popular and influential singers of his generation. He wrote and recorded classics like “Wonderful World,” “My Girl,” “Dock of the Bay,” and “Respect,” which became one of Aretha Franklin’s greatest songs.

A reflection of his personal philosophy and daily life, Mr. Redding recognized the universality of music that brings together people of diverse ethnicities, cultures and nationalities. He was nominated and received various awards throughout his musical career and in 1965, he created his own record label: Jotis Records. In 1981, Mr. Redding was posthumously inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the same for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and in 1999 he received the Lifetime Grammy Achievement Award. Today, the legacy of the man, his music, and his lyrics, persists.

One Team, One Ohana!
Adam M. Robinson, Jr., MD, MBA, CPE 
Director, VA Pacific Islands Health Care System
36th Surgeon General, USN

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