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Environmental Health Coordinators and Clinicians – Helping Veterans Concerned about Exposures

Post-9/11 Vet Newsletter: Information for Veterans who served in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn.
 
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VA's environmental health registries include free medical exams for Veterans who may have been exposed to environmental hazards during military service. Veterans can have a comprehensive health exam, including an exposure and medical history, laboratory tests if needed, and a physical exam. These registries help VA understand the health of specific groups of Veterans.  Registries can help Veterans become aware of their possible health problems related to environmental exposures. VA offers registries for Veterans with service after 9/11, including the Gulf War Registry and the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (an online registry and optional in-person medical evaluation).

As a part of participation in a registry, an environmental health coordinator guides Veterans through the process of getting an exam, and the environmental health clinician performs the medical evaluation. Together, the coordinator and clinician can also answer questions about health concerns related to military exposures and direct Veterans to other VA services related to exposure concerns, such as benefits services.

Below is an introduction to an environmental health coordinator and environmental health clinician, and the work they do to facilitate registry exams for Veterans:

William Kingsberry – Environmental Health Coordinator

William Kingsberry has been an environmental health coordinator at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, GA for 13 years. He has worked at VA for 28 years, after serving in the U.S. Army for seven years.

Mr. Kingsberry receives requests for registry exams, contacts Veterans to let them know about the exams they will take, and sets up appointments for exams. He helps Veterans with the preliminary interview and worksheet needed before they start their exam. 

“I explain everything to them and give them an appointment,”   said Mr. Kingsberry. “I let them know what the registry is about. If they have any presumed illnesses, I’ll ask them if they know where they can file a claim. If they don’t know, I let them know, whether it is by telephone or the address to the nearest office they can go to, or I send them in the hospital where there are claims representatives.”

Mr. Kingsberry mainly helps Veterans interested in the in-person health exams with the Gulf War Registry and the Agent Orange Registry. For Veterans interested in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, he initially refers them to the web to complete the online portion of this registry.

Dr. Jerrold Flyer, Environmental Health Clinician

Dr. Jerrold Flyer, Associate Chief of Staff, Non-Institutional Care, at the Boise VA Medical Center has been an environmental health clinician for almost seven years. He is a 30 year Veteran of the Air Force, with multiple deployments and service in Operating Enduring Freedom.

“My main role is to perform environmental registry exams on Veterans who are requesting enrollment into a specific registry,” said Dr. Flyer.  “I also serve as a resource regarding environmental exposures for both Veterans and other clinicians.” Dr. Flyer is the VISN 20 Lead Environmental Registry Clinician, and communicates information from VA’s Central Office to the lead clinicians in VISN 20. VISN 20, the Northwest Health Network, includes the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and one county each in California and Montana.

Veterans can obtain assistance from environmental health coordinators and clinicians for any of the registries from which they qualify. Other VA registries and related programs include the Ionizing Radiation Registry, Depleted Uranium Follow-Up Program, and the Toxic Embedded Fragment Surveillance Center

VA encourages you to join a registry. To start the process, find an environmental health coordinator near you https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/coordinators.asp.

An environmental health coordinator is available at VA medical centers across the country. Find your local environmental health coordinator at https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/coordinators.asp.