May 14, 2019


New York Institute of Technology, 1871 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

On May 14, 2019, NYHealth hosted a conference, “Can the VA and Community-Based Care Coexist?” to explore how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and community providers can better collaborate to provide the quality health care veterans deserve.

The Honorable Robert A. McDonald, 8th U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, delivered the keynote speech, addressing the changes in VA throughout and since his tenure; how VA has worked with and continues to work with community providers; and how these changes have impacted the health of veterans and their families.

During a Q&A session, moderated by David Sandman, President and CEO of NYHealth, Mr. McDonald weighed in on recent leadership changes at the VA, advice he’d give the current VA Secretary, the upcoming rollout of the VA Mission Act, the state of VA information technology, and his commitment to public service.

Following the keynote address and Q&A, the first panel, “Straight from the Source: Veterans’ Experiences Using VA and Private Care,” explored the personal experiences of the panelists in both VA and community settings. Panelists discussed where they (or the veteran they care for) accessed care, what made them choose to receive care in those locations, and barriers that have prevented them from receiving quality services. Speakers discussed how the military has had an impact on how and when they access care and offered insight on how VA and community providers can learn from each other to improve care. Derek Coy, Veterans’ Health Officer at NYHealth, moderated the panel:

  • Anuradha Bhagwati, Founder, Service Women’s Action Network, and author of Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience
  • Molly Pearl, Student Veteran Advisor, Baruch College
  • Roger Misso, local leader of Veterans Organize CNY and Co-host of the podcast “2 Vets Upstate”

Panelists shared their personal stories about navigating the public and private health sectors as veterans and caregivers. They discussed their experiences with a variety of health care settings across New York State and addressed what else still needs to be done—and by whom—to ensure that the current and future health needs of the evolving veteran community are met.

The second panel, “One Team, One Fight: The Public and Private Providers That Care for Our Returning Veterans,” explored how providers are responding to the health needs of returning veterans, the resources they provide, and what is needed to better collaborate across public/private lines. Jennifer Steinhauer, Washington correspondent focusing on veteran affairs at The New York Times, moderated the panel:

  • Martina A. Parauda, Director, VA New York Harbor Healthcare System
  • Joe Quinn, Executive Director, The Headstrong Project
  • Juan Serrano, Director, Military and Veterans Liaison Services, Northwell Health

The panelists shared their stories and expertise on how they tailor services to the needs of veterans, how they partner with other organizations, unique innovations that serve veterans and their families, and how these collaborations are having a positive impact on veterans’ health.

Read the speaker biographies here.

See an NYHealth-produced snapshot on performance measures for New York State VA hospitals.

See a report on the capacity of New York State’s civilian providers to meet the health needs of veterans.

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