By Annette Pinder

Veterans Day is November 11, a day we come together to pay our respects and stand united with gratitude for those who served our country. Our national VA Healthcare System offers the most comprehensive system of assistance to veterans of any nation in the world. Thus, there is no better time to learn about the breadth of services provided by our own VA Western New York Healthcare System (VAWNYHS).

Our VAWNYHS has multiple medical center and VA clinic locations in Buffalo, Batavia, Dunkirk, Jamestown, Lockport, Niagara Falls, Olean, Springville, and West Seneca. The VAWNYHS was also recently rated among the top 10 VA health care systems nationwide. Ours was the first health care system in the nation to develop an electronic medical records system, providing immediate access to VAWNYHS patient information from any VA medical center or clinic in the country.

Terry McGuire, Public Affairs Officer for VAWNYHS, is proud of how far VAWNYHS has come in providing state-of-the-art care, treatment, and services, citing some examples.

Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. To date, VAWNYHS has administered more than 25,000 COVID vaccines, hired additional medical staff with exceptional benefits, and has not had to furlough anyone due to the pandemic. Weekly employee town halls are conducted by our region’s best infectious disease experts. McGuire, who recently received his COVID-19 booster, says the next step is reaching out to employees and individuals ages 65 and older, and to those with preexisting health conditions to advise them of their eligibility to receive their third vaccination. Soon, younger veterans, family members, and caregivers under the Save Lives Act will be eligible for additional vaccines.

Mental/Behavioral Health. Mental and behavioral health services are provided for drug and substance addictions, depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, and more. The VAWNYHS’s Batavia site is home to one of only 10 VA residential PTSD program treatment centers. The Vets Center on Sweet Home Road in Amherst provides confidential outpatient behavioral health services and counseling.

Complementary and Integrative Health. The VAWNYHS embraces a Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) approach that includes whole health programs, such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and other therapies to improve mental health, manage pain, and promote wellness.

Breadth of Care. The VAWNY’s alphabet of services include audiology and speech (with hearing aids at a fraction of the cost elsewhere); blind and low vision rehab; cancer care; cardiology; caregiver support; dental and oral surgery; dermatology; emergency medicine; gastroenterology; geriatrics; gynecology; HIV/hepatitis; homelessness; LBGTQ+ care; laboratory and pathology; nephrology; neurology; occupational and physical therapy; orthopedics; pain management and rehabilitation; palliative and hospice; podiatry; radiology; spinal cord and brain injuries; transplant surgery; vision; and weight management. The VAWNYHS reimburses eligible patients enrolled in the system for travel to medical appointments.

The VAWNYHS is a center of health care excellence, and we look forward to focusing on specific areas of care in future issues. Learn more at, where you can also find career opportunities. For inquiries on health benefits and enrollment/eligibility, call 716-862-8829. For mental health services, call 716-862-3117, and call 716-862-7868 to schedule a vaccine.