Health care is one of the basic services every individual needs. Ensuring that no veteran goes without this necessity, no matter the types of health problems an individual may be facing, is one of the most pressing efforts facing the veterans organizations active today. The past few years have seen great strides and some setbacks, but through it all there has been a focus on achieving positive new outcomes for service members who have returned to civilian life.
The VA takes on cancer
According to Military Times, the Department of Veterans Affairs is part of a massive new effort to fight cancer using any means possible. The source noted that the current project comes from a White House initiative referred to as a "moonshot" and budgeted at $1 billion. The stated aim of the plan is to spend five years of concerted effort gaining 10 years' worth of medical knowledge.
The practical element of the partnership involves new capabilities for hospitals aligned with the VA. According to Military Times, the veterans organization now has agreements with the National Cancer Institute, Prostate Cancer Foundation and more. This is on top of an alliance with computing giant IBM and its Watson artificial intelligence program.
"We're essentially taking expertise that exists in our high-end centers and making sure that it is available in even our most rural centers," VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin told the news provider. "It's going to result in different treatment options and better decisions, and making sure every veteran is getting world-class cancer care."
The department's targets are ambitious when it comes to how many individuals will receive treatment – Military Times explained that 10,000 or more veterans are in line for therapy to help combat cancers. The involvement of the IBM computer may help doctors concoct treatment regimens that are personalized to each patient. This level of customization can help save lives, and it is fast: The news source reported that Watson requires as little as a day to create treatment plans in some cases.
The VA's efforts to defeat cancer are notable for their focus and ambition, and they should represent a promising addition to the capabilities of affiliated hospitals and other medical facilities. Every improvement to VA care is good news for veterans, whose care needs once they return from active duty need to receive consistent and sustained attention.
The drive to improve
The anti-cancer initiative is part of a greater effort to improve medical care at the VA. Massachusetts TV station WWLP recently reported that the recently released congressional report into conditions at the organization shows signs of progress. The VA has hired over 100 workers since over the course of two years, and while consistency is still in line for improvement, 97 percent of medical appointments at VA facilities are now handled within 30 days.
Veterans' service must be rewarded with great treatment once they have returned home. Therefore, the ongoing improvements to VA medical care, both incremental and drastic, are welcome developments. Leaders within the organization will no doubt strive to keep progress going over the next few years and beyond.