For Immediate Release
Contact: John Hoellwarth
National Communications Director
AMVETS (American Veterans)
AMVETS Hires New Chief Medical Executive to Tackle Veteran Mental Health Crisis
AMVETS National Headquarters, Feb. 1, 2018 – In a move that signals the organization’s effort to take the lead in veteran healthcare advocacy, American Veterans (AmVets) announced the hiring of Lana N. McKenzie as Chief Medical Executive. In her role, she will focus on shaping and improving upon VA policies related to mental health, traumatic brain injury, and polytrauma care for veterans.
“I spent most of my nursing career helping heal catastrophically disabled veterans of their physical ailments and holding VA accountable for that aspect of their care. Now, however, the signature injury of today’s wartime era, the ‘invisible wounds,’ will allow me to reach the wouldbe 20-a-day, those with opioid addiction, and many others who suffer in silence after bravely serving their country.”
Mrs. McKenzie is a registered nurse licensed in Virginia and California, a certified case manager, and a certified public health nurse. She has been a practicing nurse for more than 29 years, and spent 10 years as a spinal cord injury/diseases nurse in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system prior to getting involved in nonprofit veterans advocacy.
Before joining AMVETS as Chief Medical Executive, she worked as the Associate Executive Director of Medical Services & Health Policy for Paralyzed Veterans of America, where she championed the construction of seven VA specialized care centers and led a team of clinicians and architects on hundreds of site visits, resulting in vast improvements in access to and quality of care for catastrophically disabled veterans, as well as policy revisions that helped standardize how these veterans received care.
Mrs. McKenzie also served as chairperson for seven consecutive years for the world’s largest continuing education conference for neuromedicine healthcare professionals, bringing together nearly 900 leading clinicians and researchers in specialized healthcare. She also successfully championed the addition of 1,000 nurses to specialized VA healthcare through the development of a new nurse staffing methodology that changed the way VA delivered care for the country’s most vulnerable veteran population.
“After leaving war-torn Vietnam with my family once Saigon fell, I was determined at a young age to do my part to heal those heroes in uniform who’d aided in our family’s journey to the land of opportunity. That journey has taken me from the bedside to the boardroom as an advocate for veterans who have no voice. I’m proud to be affiliated with an organization whose name says it all, American Veterans, that shares my values on our obligation to those veterans.”
Mrs. McKenzie received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Loma Linda University and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Southern California. In January 2016, she earned a second Masters Degree in Healthcare Administration from Walden University. AMVETS is the nation’s largest and oldest Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization that is open to and fights for all veterans who served honorably, including reservists & guardsmen. AMVETS has been a nonpartisan advocate for veterans and their families for more than 70 years.