HONOLULU VETERANS ADMINISTRATION OFFICE TO CONTINUE AMERICAN SAMOA SERVICES

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (January 14, 1999 - Samoa News)---The VA Medical Center and Regional Office Center (VAMROC) in Honolulu will continue to provide services for American Samoa veterans who suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to Senator Matautia Tuiafono.

This is "great news" for our local veterans, Senator Matautia added.

Through a Senate Concurrent Resolution sponsored by Senator Matautia, and passed during the 25th Legislature, lawmakers called on the U.S. Department of Veterans Administration to maintain and continue services through PTSD in Honolulu after they were informed of the possibility of the service being suspended for local veterans.

Responding to the Resolution, VA’s Under Secretary of Health, Dr. Kenneth W. Kizer, informed the Legislature that VAMROC in Honolulu "will continue to provide these services to veterans who have enrolled on or after October 1, 1998."

Furthermore, "Outpatient PTSD treatment and benefits services will continue to be available on-island for veterans in American Samoa from a VA PTSD and Benefits Counselor."

Additionally, "This counselor will continue to provide assistance to veterans in their interactions with traveling VA staff who visit the island, and access to the PTSD Residential Rehabilitation Program in Hawai‘i will continue to be available for those veterans who require it."

Moreover, "VAMROC Honolulu has additional initiatives under way to improve access to care for veterans in American Samoa. Continued medication availability through the establishment of prescriptive authority for the physician at the Lyndon B. Johnson Medical Center, and prescriptions provided by mail from Honolulu are currently operational."

Dr. Kizer also informed the Fono (legislature) that potential applications of tele-medicine are being explored through a VA, LBJ Medical Center and University of Hawai‘i collaboration.

"While I regret that there was a misunderstanding about the ongoing availability of services, I am pleased to note that these services will be continued and enhanced," concluded Dr. Kizer in a letter to lawmakers recently.

"I believe our efforts were successful for the benefit of all veterans in the Territory," declared Senator Matautia yesterday.

Meantime, details of the regulations governing travel for local veterans to the Veterans Office in Honolulu for medical appointments are expected to be released next month, according to Congressman Faleomavaega Eni.

Veterans of American Samoa became eligible late last year to travel ‘free’ on military aircraft (MAC) to Hawai‘i for VA medical care. This was after U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Department of Defense (DOD) FY'99 Appropriation bill which includes a provision to allow free transport for American Samoa’s veterans.

Yesterday Faleomavaega said that DOD has informed him that the new regulations governing the travel for American Samoa veterans residing in the territory traveling to Hawaii for VA medical appointments are expected to be released in late February.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

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