Evolving Perceptions: Victory for Veterans

Happy Monday, friends!

Last week, I officially completed my first year of medical school.  It’s crazy how time flies!

I have learned special lessons from my first year of medical school.  In the past year, I have cultivated my passions and my WHY — increasing naturopathic medicine access to veterans.  My WHY has led me an unforgettable journey to meet Senator McCain, Cindy McCain, incredible physicians, injured veterans, homeless veterans, chronically disabled veterans, veterans advocacy leaders, and more.  I have had the special opportunity to receive mentorship from admired physicians within the VA and within my medical school.

Town Hall Meeting with Senator John McCain

I was personally invited to Senator McCain’s town hall meeting today.  It was an extraordinary and unforgettable experience.  Senator McCain shared his short term plans and long term plans for VA reforms, as well as his frustrations associated with VA healthcare policy.

His full-time constituent advocate staff members were on-site to assist veterans encountering problems receiving care from the VA.

Senator McCain highlighted a key point: Despite the staffing issues within the VA healthcare system, we must not forget the dedicated staff who do their best to support veterans.

Beyond problems with staff and best practices, Senator McCain noted the need for improved policy and implementation on an organizational and leadership level.

After sharing his plan, Senator McCain opened the floor for veteran feedback.  He spoke directly with Arizona veterans to hear their views and concerns. It was uplifting to see Senator McCain’s genuine efforts to support local veterans and their specific needs.   

Non-Pharmacological Approaches to Treating Veterans with Chronic Pain

When given the opportunity, I asked about the Dear Colleague Letter  initiative between AMVETS and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians to reduce opioid dependency.  Naturopathic medicine found its way into the conversation!   In the audience, a veteran, also a former healthcare professional, verbalized his support for inclusion of naturopathic medicine in the VA.

Many others chimed in, and after the town hall meeting, I was flooded by a dozen veterans who expressed support to my message and efforts.

My Why

During the town hall, I heard stories that brought tears to my eyes.  A daughter expressed the pain with seeing her father struggle in the VA healthcare system, and ultimately die waiting for care.  She said her father’s wheelchair arrived, 2 months after his death.  With courage, she expressed how her father was so excited about the wheelchair. Yet, he never had the chance to experience the wheelchair before his death.  Hearing stories from the brave veterans and caregivers was an unforgettable experience…

AANP & AMVETS Legislative Progress

Now, more than ever, our beloved veterans deserve quality medical attention and administrative support.  I will be traveling to Washington, DC this upcoming May for the annual American Association of Naturopathic Physicians DC-Federal Legislative Initiative conference.  The AANP is achieving unprecedented legislative progress to incorporate naturopathic physicians in the VA healthcare system!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this key conversation; I am humbled by the veterans’ love and support.

When saying goodbye to Senator McCain, he gave me a big hug and asked me to thank my fiancé for his service.  This meant the world to me, as my fiancé’s journey inspired my mission and vision.

I appreciate your efforts to support my blog.  Thank you for your time.  Thank you for walking with me.

Little by little, one travels far… 🇺🇸

Onward,

~G

PS. On my way home, I passed a thin man wearing a ripped Marine Corps t-shirt.  He stood with a cardboard sign that said “Homeless veteran.  Anything helps.  God bless you.”  I pulled over and I found out that he had never heard of the VA Community Resource and Referral Center, an agency devoted to homeless veterans.  I left a detailed message for the CRRC.  I also called the Homeless Veteran Hotline and found out that he could dial 211 to get connected to local services.  He did not want to leave the street corner without his wife.   My fiancé met him and I on the corner and dropped off a bag of produce and a reusable water bottle filled with cold water. He was so grateful and smiled when we parted.

Please say a prayer tonight for our struggling veterans.

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5 thoughts on “Evolving Perceptions: Victory for Veterans

  1. I am so moved by this blog post it is hard for me to express my feelings for the efforts you and Josh are putting forth for the Veterans!!! Your a very special couple, never let anyone tell you differently. It brings pride and hope to my heart to be among your friends, of which you will have multitudes with this kind of work your doing.
    Miss us,
    Bob Hill

    Like

  2. Gigi,

    As always I am so proud of your work professionally and personally as well as this blog. You are an amazing woman who I am glad to share my life with. I love you and support you always!

    Always,
    -J

    Ps. Bob! Miss you bud! Hopefully we can come visit in the near future 🙂

    Like

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