Current State of Healthcare in American Samoa for U.S. Veterans?

This annual Holiday reminds me of the great debt of gratitude that we all owe to our veterans, and everyone knows that American Samoa has way more that its "fair share" of them...  Has there been any progress made towards getting a permanent, full-service VA Medical Hospital established in the Territory?  In the meantime, has the LBJ TMC done anything to improve its most basic services for the many former servicemen/women that still reside there?  Is at least the ASG Off-Island Medical Referral Program back up and running again, even if it is still not fully-funded?  Finally, what do the Residents of AS think about all of this, and what are the Territorial/Healthcare leaders doing (or even saying) about it...?  Everyone there deserves better, but ESPECIALLY our veterans!

The public's observations and opinions can make a real difference.  THANK YOU to all who have served and are serving our country!  May you have a blessed Veteran's Day, and may your medical needs never be neglected.  Warm Regards, Dr. JIM MARRONE

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Dr. Jim Marrone

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Just perusing SamoaNews.com

Just perusing SamoaNews.com again here, and I came across this article about the US Veterans Administration and some recent information gathered from Congresswoman Amata. 

http://www.samoanews.com/…/amata-visits-tripler-army-medica…’-services

Some time ago I believe there was at least informal talk of a full-fledged Veterans Hospital potentially coming to AS, or if not that perhaps a more formal dedication of one of the existing wings of LBJ...? The Veteran population of the Territory is presumably growing, with (I would guess) the average age likely falling... Comments and opinions and potential solutions are certainly welcome!

Regards, Dr. JIM MARRONE

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More from Congresswoman Amata re: VA services in the Pacific

This one in the local paper again very recently:

http://www.samoanews.com/local-news/amata-discusses-health-care-visiting-vfw-group

So I wonder what the VA Officers in DC and nationwide honestly think about the full situation in places like AS?  Is it just "maintain the status quo...," forever?  Are the Feds. going to keep spending incredible amounts of money to fly vets. all over the globe for most everything (starting with the most basic checkups, but of course including very costly and risky Medevacs.), when potentially the vast majority of the needs of our veterans as well as the rest of the local population could be so much better met by investing in a modern/up-to-date, fully funded and credentialed Territorial Hospital?  I believe such a place could likely take take on all of those needs and more.  Anyone agree?  Or not?

Let your voices be heard, folks.  And stay healthy!  Dr. JIM MARRONE

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Even the GAO is aware...

http://www.samoanews.com/local-news/gao-report-points-lack-doctors-va-care-territories

Depressing, isn't it?  So much discussion, so many "committees which are going to be getting back to the Veterans to see what they think about all of this" ad nausem, yet the patients still go largely without.

Yet the very same article provides the beginning of a roadmap for a lasting solution!  Doesn't AS have Millions in $U.S. coming in every year, not to mention the absolutely gargantuan budget of the Federal VA?  Doesn't the Territory have YET ANOTHER fiber optic cable coming in to supposedly improve broadband connectivity for the islands, like any day now?  What possible sense could it make that the Univ. of Hawai'i (JABSOM) would be considered the only source of recruiting healthcare practitioners, for the whole Pacific?  That's IMPOSSIBLE!  And isn't anything ever going to be done to improve airline access to and from AS, not to mention foster any degree of price and quality of service competition in transportation down there?

The practitioners need to be properly incentivized, plain and simple.  And in places like AS, that usually includes a significant bump in salary (and/or benefits) due to the extra distance and challenges faced in working there (our Military does this already, routinely).  Then they have to have easier referral capabilities for patients who demand a higher level of care than can be provided locally.

The Internet bottleneck has been holding back the Territory for years, maybe even decades already.  Fix it!

And for Heaven's sake, improve the schools and roads post haste!

Hire (and support!) a veterinarian for those poor, diseased and suffering animals in the Territory!

If the officials would make just any noticeable progress in these few things alone, people will come to work there.  Some will even bring their families.  And enough of them will be good, with perhaps some of them even staying, indefinitely...

And our Veterans (not to mention everyone else!) will see lasting benefits in their health and happiness.

What do others think?  Is it so impossible to imagine?  Warm regards, Dr. JIM MARRONE