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Guest View | VA ICU Technology demonstrates how to improve veterans’ healthcare

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One of the most inspiring moments of my life has been traveling to Washington D.C. on Honor flights with some of the greatest heroes our nation has ever seen.

Seeing the reaction of these veterans when they see the war memorials in our Capitol — many of them for the first time – is an experience I will never forget. It is a personal connection to our nation’s history that can’t be explained — only experienced.

I am in awe of the people I have met on these flights. There is no thought of self with these individuals. Their focus is solely on service. Even in their old age, they are still actively involved in their communities, and they are there to do whatever they can for their fellow veterans.

I learned a lot about them on these flights, but I also learned a lot about myself. I am a veteran of the Iraq War and being on these flights only has served to increase my resolve to do all I can to help our veterans because this is what a grateful nation should do.

There are many challenges our veterans face, but none greater than healthcare. Upgrading our healthcare service to veterans is long overdue and one of the areas of great concern is access to intensive care units.

Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Marion

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Marion.

BEIJING — Veterans and officials from China and the United States on Tuesday celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Flying Tigers, American pilots who flew for China in World War II, as a historic example of better relations and cooperation.

To ensure that our state’s veterans have access to the care they need, we must start working now on smart, innovative ways to improve access to care so that veterans, no matter where they live, don’t feel like they don’t have an option for routine checkups or emergency treatments.

One of these solutions is already employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in VA hospital ICUs across the country. The VA has teamed up with Philips North America to roll out what it calls eICU technology. Through this program, intensive care specialists that wouldn’t always be available at every hospital can remotely monitor patients around-the-clock and remain in communication with patients, families, and on-site care providers. This way, specialized care is available to more veterans where they are, minimizing transfers and time spent in the ICU.

The eICU technology serves as an illustrative example of how partnerships between private industry and the government can transform healthcare for the better and improve access to care for our nation’s veterans. By implementing more programs like this, we can not only better handle the problems before us right now but ensure that we are prepared to treat every veteran who needs care well into the future.

For these kinds of programs to grow, however, they will need support from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. In Illinois, we are represented by members of Congress like Representative Mike Bost, who plays a key role in shaping policies that affect our veterans as ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. He’s already shown that improving healthcare for veterans is a priority for him, and we hope he will work with his colleagues to support more initiatives that bring the private sector and the government together to improve healthcare for those who have served our country.

POPERINGE, Belgium — Simon Louagie dreaded losing Talbot House, a World War I soldiers’ club that has become an institution in remembrance tourism on the Western Front where soldiers from all corners of the globe fought amid untold carnage just over a century ago.

By supporting legislation that enables more initiatives like the ones the VA is using to improve ICU care for veterans, lawmakers can help pave the way toward a more modern approach to healthcare that improves outcomes for everyone who relies on these facilities.

One of our top priorities should be ensuring that America’s veterans can reliably access the healthcare and the treatments they need. We should work now to lay the groundwork for the future, so that we are prepared no matter what challenges may lie ahead.

Tom Harness was a 31S Satellite Communications Operator in the U.S. Army and he is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, and he is the recipient of 2 Army Accommodation Medals.

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