AMVETS’ HEAL Program to Hold First Veterans Healthcare Symposium


Contacts: Irene Polyzos / Entela Dece
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AMVETS’ HEAL Program to Hold First Veterans Healthcare Symposium

Event to tackle Veterans Healthcare For Patients, Providers, and Policymakers


AMVETS National Headquarters, May 11, 2018 – American Veterans (AMVETS), the nation’s most inclusive congressionally-charted veteran service organization, will hold a veterans healthcare symposium Wednesday, May 23, in Washington D.C.

The symposium will be held in the Jack Morton Auditorium at George Washington University ‘s School of Media and Public Affairs. It will include three open-forum panel discussions intended to explore solutions to critical gaps in veterans’ healthcare policies and programs, as well as the resources necessary and available to address those gaps. There will be a panel of veterans, a panel of healthcare providers, and a panel of policy makers.

The veterans’ panel will include:

Sherman Gillums, AMVETS chief strategy officer
Melissa Bryant, U.S. Army Iraq War veteran
Mike Low, U.S. Navy veteran
Rick Weidman, U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran

The panel of veterans’ healthcare providers will include:

Lana McKenzie, R.N., AMVETS chief medical executive
Dr. Jeri Muse, VA psychologist
Dr. Baligh Yehia, Senior Medical Director, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Dr. Heidi Maloni, VA National clinical nursing director

The panel of veterans national policy makers will include:

Amy Webb, AMVETS legislative policy advisor
Dr. Megan McCarthy, Veterans Health Administration deputy director
Alexander Large, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee coalitions director
Lynda Davis, PhD, chief veterans experience officer

In addition to the panelists, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, is scheduled to address the symposium about the state of VHA and its upcoming initiatives.

“May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is a good time to bring more focus on the overall health and wellbeing of veterans throughout the country. We’re facing a growing healthcare crisis, and now is the time to talk less and do more to avert it,” said AMVETS Executive Director Joe Chenelly.

In an effort to combat mental illness and barriers to accessing quality healthcare among veterans, AMVETS launched the HEAL program in early 2018. The HEAL Program team, led by Chief Medical Executive Lana McKenzie, consists of licensed clinicians who provide cost-free clinical intervention and assistance services to veterans who need help with accessing care and navigating through the bureaucracy of the VA healthcare system. The AMVETS HEAL Team works with veterans until they get the healthcare they need to heal and enjoy good quality of life.

“Our one and only goal is to save lives with the help of the entire veterans community. We believe that starts by listening, contributing ideas, and taking real action afterward, which is the purpose of the symposium,” said AMVETS Chief Strategy Officer Sherman Gillums Jr.


AMVETS (American Veterans) is one of the nation’s leading veterans service organizations for more than 75 years, representing the interests of 20 million veterans. AMVETS is open to and fighting for all who honorably served in the United States military, including the Reserve and Guard. With more than 250,00 members nationwide, they enhance and safeguard the entitlements for all American Veterans who have served honorably and improve the quality of life for them, their families, and the communities where they live through leadership, advocacy and services. Go to www.amvets.org for more.

About HEAL

AMVETS hired a team of clinical experts with experience in eliminating barriers to access in healthcare for veterans nationwide. HEAL, which stands for healthcare, evaluation, advocacy, legislation, encompasses all necessary steps the team will take to intervene directly on behalf of veterans, service members, families, and caregivers to reduce veteran suicide, unemployment, homelessness, and hopelessness as it relates to mental and physical wellness, particularly for those who are affiliated with AMVETS and utilize Poly-trauma/Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) centers and mental health services within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and community healthcare facilities. The services are free of charge. The support services can be accessed via the toll-free 1-833 VET-HEAL (1-833-838-4325) or email VETHEAL@amvets.org.

May 10th, 2018
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