The fight against Veterans’ lung diseases

New partnership will make VA even stronger


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VA recently partnered with the American Lung Association to help improve life for Veterans diagnosed with lung diseases. This partnership will add to the support and resources that VHA already offers Veterans, their families and caregivers.

The partnership contributes to VA’s lung cancer treatment and prevention efforts because of how Veterans are affected by lung cancer.

VA diagnoses 7,700 Veterans with lung cancer each year and an estimated 900,000 remain at risk due to age, smoking and other environmental exposures during and after military service.

This collaboration with American Lung Association is yet another way VA is there for Veterans with lung cancer or lung diseases. VA has a long history of working to prevent Veterans’ lung diseases and other respiratory issues and decrease their symptoms.

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VA diagnoses 7,700 Veterans with lung cancer each year and an estimated 900,000 remain at risk due to age, smoking and other environmental exposures during and after military service.

Groundbreaking research and studies

These include leading early research to connect cigarette smoking to cancer, and to developing a blood test to determine the causes of respiratory illness. VA continues to conduct groundbreaking research, studies and clinical projects on topics like the risks of e-cigarettes, tuberculosis treatment and sleep apnea.

VHA’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE) will manage the details of this partnership.

VA also this year partnered with the Go2 Foundation for Lung Cancer – a partnership OCE helped bring to life. That partnership will help more Veterans get screened for lung cancer. VA also recently developed the VA Partnership to Increase Access to Lung Screening (VA-PALS) demonstration project.

There are now 15 VA facilities that screen high-risk Veterans for lung cancer thanks to VA-PALS.

Three main goals of partnership

Randy Moler, program analyst and licensed clinical social worker, helped bring the American Lung Association partnership across the finish line. He notes the partnership has three main goals:

  • Helping Veterans access American Lung Association’s online resources or support groups, including Better Breathers Clubs.
  • Giving American Lung Association’s partners and providers a chance to learn more about Veteran-specific issues.
  • Encouraging VA medical centers and regional American Lung Association affiliates to create local partnerships that can bring Veterans awareness and support.

This partnership potentially opens up resources for Veterans who aren’t enrolled in VA. American Lung Association and VA can share information with each of their networks about the lung disease services that both organizations already have for Veterans.

American Lung Association’s Better Breathers Club groups, for example, have gone virtual in recent months. They are still available for anyone, anywhere. These clubs help Veterans, their families and caregivers connect with other people going through the same thing. It also helps them learn how to better manage their illness.

VA will also share information with American Lung Association that is specific to Veterans’ needs, including suicide prevention. American Lung Association will educate people about VA resources. Those resources include the Veterans Crisis Line, S.A.V.E. Training.

For more information on OCE’s partnership work, visit va.gov/healthpartnerships.


Dr. Tracy L. Weistreich is a nurse executive for the VHA Office of Community Engagement.

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VAntagePoint Contributor

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