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Dear Editor:
Veterans logoApproaching Veterans Day, we salute and honor those men and women who have served in the United States armed forces.  It’s a day we reflect on the contributions and sacrifices of our service members and their families.  It’s a day we demonstrate that our gratitude toward Veterans is more than mere words.  On Veterans Day, countless ceremonies are held across the country as we pause to honor those patriots who have safeguarded our liberty.  From Bunker Hill to Bagdad, we are the beneficiaries of their vigilance and determination to uphold the democratic beliefs on which our nation was founded.
What better way to thank our Veterans than to make sure they receive the care and support they need when they need it?
Readjusting to civilian life is not always easy for some Veterans, but the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System can help to make that transition seamless and smooth.  We have a team ready to assist post-911 service members by coordinating their care and guiding them to the appropriate support programs.  We also have specialized services and personnel ready to assist the unique needs of all Veterans, regardless of their era of military service. 
Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System is listening to our Veterans and moving forward with what Veterans want.  We have reduced the number of Veterans waiting for an appointment.   Part of the decrease in wait times was the result of establishing more services at Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) so Veterans don’t have to travel to Little Rock or North Little Rock.  Eye care and audiology were recently added to the Conway CBOC.  Physical therapy was added to the list of services at the CBOCs in Hot Springs and Russellville with more services to be added to other CBOCs in the future.
An effort to hire more staff members as well as projects to expand our facilities is also expected to decrease the length of time Veterans must wait for care.  With funds from the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System added 73 medical staff members and is planning to hire 50 more.  Funds from this legislation also are being used to construct six operating rooms at the Little Rock facility which will expand the number of surgical cases we can perform.  A center to treat substance-abuse disorders and a facility to house primary care services are planned with an estimated two year completion date. 
While this was has been a challenging time for us throughout the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, we have remained committed to our mission of providing safe, quality and compassionate care to Veterans.
This commitment was recently recognized by The Joint Commission, which awarded full accreditation to the VA Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System following an unannounced  survey.  This accreditation demonstrates the results of a culture of quality and safety while maintaining transparency throughout the organization.  It is our duty and privilege to provide Arkansas’ Veterans with the care they have earned through their service and sacrifice.  This is a duty we take very seriously.
To salute and honor the men and women who served in the armed forces this Veterans Day, please help to make sure that they are receiving the services they need and deserve.  If you know a Veteran who needs assistance, please encourage them to enroll for VA health care by visiting any VA Health Care System facility throughout the state, by contracting our Enrollment Center at 1-800-224-8387, or by visiting our web site at www.littlerock.va.gov and clicking on “Become a Patient.”  Our Veterans served, and it is now our turn to serve them.
Sincerely,
Cyril Ekeh
Interim Director of the VA Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System

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