- Introduction: A Top-Level Look at the Future of Federal Medicine
- Military Health System in Time of Transition as Conflicts End
- Army Medicine: Redefining Its Role in the Generation of a Ready and Resilient Force
- Air Force Medicine: Averting an Identity Crisis
- Moving Forward with Reforming the Indian Health Service
- The Clinical Pharmacy Specialist's Growing Provider Role in VA
- Public Health Service Pharmacy: Accelerating Transformation
- Military Pain Management’s Future: Less Invasive, More Data-Driven Techniques
- Navy Medicine: Strong, Agile and Ready
- Telemental Health in VA: A New Source of Support for Veterans
Improving Health and Preventing Illness Public Health at the VA
Victoria J. Davey, PhD, MPH VA Chief of Public Health
The Office of Public Health within the Veterans Health Administration serves as the authority on public-health issues for the Department of Veterans Affairs. We think of public health as the science and practice of improving health and preventing illness among Veterans and VA staff populations.
OPH provides public-health leadership across the VHA system, comprised of more than 1,000 medical centers and outpatient clinics. Our mission is to protect veterans’ health across the country through a commitment to:
- Making sound public-health policy
- Developing and implementing public-health programs to prevent illness and encourage health behaviors
- Understanding environmental factors that affect health
- Providing support for vulnerable populations
Our vision is to be an innovative, creative, collaborative, engaged, and professional work force that identifies emerging public-health threats and needs and works to optimize the well-being of veterans, VA staff and the broader VA community. VA Public Health is organized into four groups to effectively carry out our mission:
- Post-Deployment Health
- Clinical Public Health
- Occupational Health
- Population Health
VA Public Health is aligned with the mission and vision of VHA to honor America’s veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being by providing exemplary services. VA Public Health actively partners with other federal agencies, the Executive Office of the President, Congress, and non-federal agencies, such as state and local organizations, to address public-health issues.
Post-Deployment Health administers programs related to post-deployment health concerns for veterans of all eras. Post-Deployment Health maintains several health registries which track the health of veterans exposed to potential environmental hazards during military service. The Post-Deployment Health group oversees the activities of the War Related Injury and Illness Study Center (WRIISC), with three sites that provide multi-disciplinary care to veterans focused on the effects of military service on individual veterans’ health.
Post-Deployment Health consists of two interrelated programs:
- The Epidemiology Program conducts surveillance and epidemiologic studies on veterans’ health and healthcare and creates and maintains unique databases to support research on veterans’ health issues. Current research examines traumatic brain injury in OEF/OIF/OND veterans with the goal of improving outcomes for veterans who have experienced this injury.
- The Environmental Health Program evaluates research, recommends policy and develops educational and outreach materials for health outcomes related to military service. The Environmental Health Program also develops medical opinions, training and outreach materials for physical exposures, including ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, toxic embedded fragments and depleted uranium.
Recent significant accomplishments from Post-Deployment Health include surveillance and monitoring of veterans potentially exposed to chromium at the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Facility in Iraq, collaborating with others in VA to provide medical and scientific expertise in its determinations of the association between Agent Orange exposure and heart disease in response to an Institute of Medicine report, facilitating the inclusion of veteran-specific data in CDC’s NHANES, collaborating with HHS in response to the Gulf Coast oil spill, and completing data collection for the National Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans, a 10-year longitudinal study of 60,000 recent veterans. The New Generation Study aims to provide insight on the overall health of recent veterans, improve VA’s understanding of what health services veterans need and maximize the quality of VA care.