Army Veteran Jay Phillips, who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), feels empowered by having as much as knowledge as possible to help him better manage his symptoms.
He encourages Veterans, their families and caregivers who have questions about Parkinson’s research, care and resources to attend a free online program on Saturday, March 20, from 9 a.m. to noon Eastern.
Phillips, one of three Veterans who will be speaking at the symposium, “Veterans and Parkinson’s: What You Need to Know,” is a volunteer with VA’s partner, the Parkinson’s Foundation.
No charge but registration required
There is no charge to attend the event hosted by the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and the foundation, but registration is required online or by calling 770-450-0792. Health care professionals also are invited to attend.
Dr. Vanessa K. Hinson, neurology service chief at Johnson VA, is one of the experts who will address the latest treatment advances at the interactive program where the audience will have a chance to ask questions. She said Veterans can learn about medications that are best suited for their symptoms.
“There are different forms of Parkinson’s disease,” she said. “One Veteran with PD might not look the same as another Veteran with PD.”
The program will also feature social workers, occupational therapists and mental health experts, which is particularly important because “Veterans with PD are disproportionately affected with additional mental health problems,” Dr. Hinson said.
Role of caregivers will be addressed
The role of caregivers will also be addressed to raise awareness of VA’s caregiver resources.
VA and the Parkinson’s Foundation partnered in 2020 to leverage each other’s strengths in improving the health and quality of life of Veterans living with PD. The collaboration was facilitated by VA’s National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships (HAP). HAP was formerly known as the Office of Community Engagement.
Of the one million people living with PD, it’s estimated that 110,000 are Veterans. The exact cause of the neurodegenerative disease is unknown. Still, research suggests it can be linked to genetic and environmental factors.
In some cases, a Parkinson’s diagnosis can be linked to Agent Orange or other herbicide exposure related to military service.
VA operates six specialized Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers (PADRECCs) across the nation to assist Veterans through VA pharmacy benefits, physical, occupational and speech therapies, medical equipment, surgical services and more.
Assistance for Veterans and families
VA also operates 51 Consortium Centers, VA clinics that offer specialized Parkinson’s disease and movement disorder specialty care to Veterans. Veterans and their families can also find assistance online through VA’s virtual support groups and educational resources.
The Parkinson’s Foundation assists people affected by PD through research, fundraising and educational and supportive resources, such as a helpline, webinars, podcasts, books, online discussion boards and virtual weekly events.
HAP facilitates partnerships such as this that support Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors.
“This program is a perfect example of how VA and the Parkinson’s Foundation are working together. We provide the latest information and the best care possible to the Veteran community,” said Randy Moler, HAP program analyst.
For more information about HAP partnerships, visit va.gov/healthpartnerships.
Lora Hershey is a communications specialist with DCG Communications.