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Work underway to improve services for veterans

Hospitals and clinics operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have come under immense scrutiny in recent years. Some facilities have been found to be deficient in treatment of veterans, and politicians from both sides of the aisle have taken officials to task.

Most recently, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., issued strong statements about the care of women veterans. He noted that the Government Accounting Office found that many VA medical facilities are not in compliance with standards that would ensure the privacy, safety and dignity of female veterans. Further, the accounting office found that 27 percent of VA facilities lack on-site gynecologists.

VA facilities also have been under pressure to increase care and treatment for all veterans, not only women. In North Las Vegas, the VA medical facility reports it is fully committed to the agency’s declaration of timely care, as needed. A spokesman said doctors and practitioners there offer same-day services in primary care and mental health areas.

I have written about local organizations that have active and proposed alternative medical and psychological treatments for veterans. Some are attempting to work with the VA, and some operate strictly on their own.

In California, one woman has been successful with her nonprofit group, Heaven and Earth Oasis, providing “a safe and peaceful healing space with an array of professional holistic healing treatments at no cost to U.S. military veterans.”

Founder and president Valerie Heath said she was gripped by a determination to do something for veterans who needed help to heal physically and emotionally. She said “energy healing” is recognized and in use by a large segment of the military community “as a protocol for treating post-traumatic stress disorder and other emotional and physical health issues incurred by men and women thrust into harm’s way.”

She said active duty and veterans sometimes seek alternative treatments outside of what is provided by the VA, and she formed Heaven and Earth to address what she said is a widespread need. Staff members are certified and licensed professionals offering an array of healing arts including water therapy, chiropractic treatment, massage, acupuncture and biofeedback.

Heaven and Earth invites guests who reflect positive lifestyles for veterans to its annual fundraising events. At one such recent event I met Leon Cooper, a World War II Navy officer who took part in the bloody battle of Tarawa. He is 97 years old and, in 2008, not even close to feeling his age, financed a nostalgic visit back to Tarawa. What he saw stunned him.

The former battlefield had been neglected. The beaches and ocean shore lines were littered with trash, rusted armaments, live ammunition, broken down tanks, decaying motor vehicles, half-buried aircraft wings and, most depressing of all, remains of American servicemen who lost their lives in battle.

Thus began Cooper’s ongoing, one-man crusade against select agencies of the U.S. government. He began prodding them to clean and preserve those long-forgotten patches of sand and water.

They are locations where American freedom was fought for and won with the lives of U.S. Marines and Navy sailors. He didn’t know what he was in for.

Next month, I’ll continue the story and detail Cooper’s battles with officials.

Chuck N. Baker is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a Purple Heart recipient.

Veteran uses talents to help other veterans

Robert Serge served in the United States Navy for 20 months as part of an ordnance laboratory test facility. As he puts it, “We designed harbor mines and stuff like that.”

Holistic treatments help many veterans

Last year in one of my columns, I briefly discussed holistic medicine and efforts that the Department of Veterans Affairs had been taking to include such treatments in its care of veterans. Since then, the VA has made some additional efforts to include nontraditional treatments.

Gallery helps veterans explore their feelings through art

Artist and businesswoman Chris Frausto used to reside in Boulder City and owned an art gallery here. It was located on a corner, so it was not considered unusual when she named it the Corner Gallery.

Burns’ Vietnam documentary explores ‘truths’ about war

The Vietnam War. The conflict is burned into the minds of millions of Americans — those who fought in it, civilians who lived through the 1960s, historians, journalists, photographers and filmmakers.

Vets’ families find compassion at home away from home

When veterans and active-duty military personnel need help, it’s very common for other veterans and service people to step up to lend their collective hands. Providing assistance to their fellow brothers and sisters is ingrained in the hearts and minds of America’s military culture.

Ex-Tunnel Rat appreciates ‘penthouse’ lifestyle

Boulder City is currently the home of a veteran whose name is “Fearless.” When someone’s name is “Fearless” it could either be a satirical reference, or it could mean that it’s someone who is in reality a very tough individual. In the case of Fearless Fredy King, it’s the latter definition.

USO helps military as they travel, return to civilian life

The general public knows the combination of letters “USO.” Many even know the type of work the USO is involved in. But if one were to ask those individuals what the letters stand for, and where the organization is located in Southern Nevada, the answer might just involve a blank stare unless the person being questioned is involved with the local military or veterans community.

Teacher’s brush with fame included astronaut

Veteran John Glenn was known by most Americans and indeed was internationally famous. Most Americans also know that Glenn died in December at age 95.

Honor Flight offers awe-inspiring experience

Many individuals, especially those who follow issues concerning veterans, have more than likely heard of the Honor Flight Network. The mission of the group is to honor select veterans, especially those who served in World War II, by taking them on all-expense-paid excursions to Washington, D.C., to visit military memorials.

Nevada celebrates veterans’ achievements

Southern Nevada resident and former Army Sgt. Richard “Dick” L. Moyer was presented with a Bronze Star Medal with a “V” for valor this month for his heroic efforts during the Vietnam War.