Army Veteran Julio Sanchez called the nonprofit GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer’s HelpLine after his 2019 lung cancer diagnosis. He was directed to GO2 Foundation’s Phone Buddy program, which pairs Phone Buddies and survivors for emotional support.
Sanchez called his Phone Buddy his “battle buddy” when he was featured on GO2 Foundation’s Veteran Spotlight blog and Lung Cancer Living Room video series.
VA offers a variety of smoking cessation resources.
“That personal connection helped me immensely,” Sanchez said. “He was already in the same foxhole, engaging the lung cancer opponent I was facing.”
Miranda Goff is a manager for support services at GO2 Foundation. Hers is one of the voices on the other end of the HelpLine. She said that for Veterans like Sanchez, this sense of a shared experience is valuable.
“I have Veteran volunteers who are more than happy to talk to other Veterans about how they navigated the diagnosis. How they coped with it,” explained Goff. Goff has worked on the HelpLine since May 2018.
Increasing awareness of lung cancer screening options
VA announced a partnership with GO2 Foundation which aims to increase awareness about lung cancer screening options and improve outcomes for Veterans impacted by the disease. The partnership, facilitated by VA’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE), adds to the lung cancer and lung disease supportive services VA already offers.
The HelpLine and Phone Buddy programs are resources Veterans can take advantage of any time. Most people who call have recently received new information about a diagnosis or potential diagnosis and are looking for more information.
“You don’t have to know what you’re calling about. It’s more of a conversation about the things we do,” Goff adds. If GO2 Foundation doesn’t offer a particular service, HelpLine staffers will reach out to GO2 Foundation’s network to find a resource.
Directs Veterans to other VA programs
Goff has directed Veterans who call the HelpLine to the VA smoking cessation app and other smoking cessation resources. She has also told Veteran callers about the Veterans Crisis Line and other VA mental health support.
“I am proud to be able to really help provide another layer of service for Veterans who have done so much for our country, to help them during a time of need,” Goff added.
Georgeanna Bady is an OCE health systems specialist. She said, “It’s rewarding for our team at OCE to work on projects we know improve quality of life for Veterans. That’s especially true because many Veterans are so affected by lung cancer.”
OCE is VHA’s resource for establishing and growing nongovernmental partnerships that benefit Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors. For more information on OCE’s partnership work, visit VA.gov/healthpartnerships.
Dr. Tracy L. Weistreich is the nurse executive for the VHA Office of Community Engagement.