Services

VA Representative

Michael Waller, PT, DPT  and Peter Glover 

 

VA QUICK LINKS
VHA Fun Facts:
  • VHA is one of the largest employers of PTs and PTAs in the world with more than 2200 PTs and 500 PTAs
  • PTs & PTAs are employed at more than 300 separate care locations including more than 150 medical centers across the country
  • VA PTs train more than 900 student interns and more than 40 residents annually
COMMENT LETTERS TO VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible for providing federal benefits, including health care, to Veterans and their eligible family members. Today’s Veterans have a comprehensive medical benefits package. The system is based on priority groups to ensure that health care benefits are readily available to all enrolled Veterans. The Mission is to Honor America’s Veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being. Their core values are expressed via Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.

The VA health care system includes 152 medical centers; more than 800 Outpatient, community, and outreach clinics; 135 community living centers; and 48 domiciliaries. VA health care facilities provide a broad spectrum of medical, surgical, and rehabilitative care. Out of the current total of 22.7 million Veterans, there are over 8.3 million Veterans enrolled to receive care through the VA. This makes up the annual 75.6 million outpatient visits and 679 million inpatient admissions that were seen in 2010. The VA also manages one of the largest medical education and health professions training program in the United States. Each year, over 90,000 health professionals are trained in VA facilities.1

There are more than 1500 Physical Therapists and 370 Physical Therapy Assistants on staff, which makes the VA one of the largest employers of physical therapists nationwide. Physical Therapists have a long history of providing care to active duty military soldiers and to Veterans. The profession’s roots started with rehabilitating soldiers returning from World War I. Physical Therapists in the VA render evidence-base care that emphasizes patient-centered care, and many are recognized leaders in clinical research and education.

Physical therapists practice across the continuum of care. Opportunities exist within an acute hospital, inpatient rehab, home health, outpatient visits, and tele-rehabilitation. Enhancements in evidence-base approaches, battlefield medicine, and types of gear have helped improve the outcomes of soldiers during battles. Many recent Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are facing unique injuries that require complex rehabilitation.2 These injuries are related to Musculoskeletal, Polytrauma, Traumatic Brain Injury, Wound care, and Amputations. In response to the complex rehabilitation needs, the VA has set up comprehensive programs including: Polytrauma System of Care, Amputation System of Care, Assistive Technology, Blind Rehabilitation System, Spinal Cord System of Care, and advancing Tele-rehabilitation. These, in addition to the new Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACT), allow health care providers to practice at the top of their license while providing patient-centered, evidence-base care to our nations’ heroes.

The demand for Physical Therapists is expected to increase within the VA, as it is for the private sector. The demand for services along with the aging workforce will create opportunities for those wanting to establish their career within the VA. The VA is always taking steps to improve recruitment and retention. Education is a priority for the VA. This has been shown by stipends for students and more recently, establishing residency programs at select sites. The opportunities are endless. To learn more about current job opportunities, please view  https://www.usajobs.gov/ .

References:

  • Department of Veterans Affairs Fact Sheet. “Quick Facts”. September 2011. Available online at http://www.va.gov
  • Gawande A, “Casualties of War-Military Care for the Wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan.” The New England Journal of Medicine, vol.351, issue 24 (December 2004) p. 2471.