Director's Message June 4, 2021 - VA Pacific Islands Health Care System
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VA Pacific Islands Health Care System


Director's Message June 4, 2021

Dr. Adam Robinson Jr.


Friday, June 4, 2021

VAPIHCS Veterans,

VAPIHCS Increases availability of Telehealth Services Through Launch of Digital Divide Consult.

The VA has expanded opportunities for Veterans enrolled in the VA health care system to access their care by telehealth through the launch of its Digital Divide Consult and continued partnerships with private-sector companies facilitated by the VA’s Secretary's Center for Strategic Partnerships.

This effort is to ensure all Veterans, regardless of where they live, have convenient access to VA care and these initiatives do just that.

During the pandemic, VA’s telehealth services have been of critical importance, enhancing options for Veterans in Pacific Islands, Hawaii  to connect with the safe, compassionate, quality care they deserve. VA’s Digital Divide Consult assists qualifying Veterans who do not have the internet or technology needed to access telehealth services from home by loaning them internet-connected devices or helping them apply for federal subsidies for their needed technology.

Since January 2021, VA Pacific Island Health Care has conducted 19,047 video telehealth visits into Veterans’ homes. Nationally, VA regularly provides over 41,000 video telehealth visits into Veterans’ homes on a typical single business day, exceeding the number of visits VA previously offered over an entire month.  

Visit VA Video Connect at the VA App Store and VA Office of Connected Care for information about VA telehealth. Veterans interested in scheduling a telehealth visit, in need of assistance with technology and connectivity or interested in a Digital Divide Consult should talk to their VA health care provider or team.

Call for more information, Colette Kon, RN MSN, VAPIHCS- Facility Telehealth Coordinator  808-940-2658  Email:

VA plans expansion of benefits for disability claims for conditions related to certain toxic exposures.

New evaluation process to be applied in identifying future presumptive conditions. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced two major decisions related to presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange and particulate matter exposures during military service in Southwest Asia.

Agent Orange

VA will begin implementing provisions of the William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law 116-283), adding three conditions to the list of those presumptively associated with exposure to herbicide agents, more commonly known as Agent Orange. Those conditions are bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism.

Many of our Nation’s Veterans have waited a long time for these benefits, VA will not make them wait any longer. This is absolutely the right thing to do for Veterans and their families.

VA will apply the provisions of court orders related to Nehmer v. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which may result in an earlier date for entitlement to benefits for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Vietnam War era Veterans and their survivors, who previously filed and were denied benefits for one of these three new presumptive conditions, will have their cases automatically reviewed without the need to refile a claim.  VA will send letters to impacted Veterans and survivors. 

Particulate Matter Exposures

The Secretary recently concluded the first iteration of a newly formed internal VA process to review scientific evidence to support rulemaking, resulting in the recommendation to consider creation of new presumptions of service connection for respiratory conditions based on VA’s evaluation of a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report and other evidence.

VA’s review supports initiation of rulemaking to address the role that particulate matter pollution plays in generating chronic respiratory conditions, which may include asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis, for Veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War and/or after September 19, 2001, or in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War.

VA is establishing a holistic approach to determining toxic exposure presumption going forward. We are moving out smartly in initiating action to consider these and other potential new presumptions, grounded in science.

VA is initiating rulemaking to consider adding respiratory conditions, which may include asthma, sinusitis, and rhinitis, to the list of chronic disabilities, based on an association with military service in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan during the covered periods of conflict..  VA will conduct broad outreach efforts to reach impacted Veterans and encourages them to participate in the rulemaking process.

For more information, visit our website at Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Exposures - Public Health (

Masks at VAPIHCS

For the time being, masking requirements will remain in place for both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated patients and visitors, employees, contractors, and volunteers for all VAPIHCS buildings and campuses, even if no patients are seen or treated in the facilities.

If you have not already received a COVID-19 vaccine, please consider getting vaccinated and helping us keep our patients, employees and visitors safe. We’re offering the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine to VA employees, Veterans, their spouses and caregivers, and CHAMPVA recipients every Wednesday in the ACC.  Learn more.

All VA facilities and clinics that administer COVID-19 vaccines are now offering walk-ins for eligible Veterans, spouses and caregivers. This walk-in service ensures that all Veterans enrolled in VA health care and those authorized under the SAVE LIVES Act have an opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccination from VA at a time convenient to them. This effort is in support of the president’s goal of administering at least one vaccine shot to 70% of the U.S. adult population by July 4 (58% currently as of May 10).

One Team, One Ohana!

Adam M. Robinson, Jr., MD, MBA, CPE

Director, VA Pacific Islands Health Care System


36th Surgeon General, USN

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