For the past two and half years, I have had the privilege to serve as the director of the Montana VA Health Care System. I have accepted the directorship for the Chillicothe VA Medical Center in Chillicothe, Ohio. Chillicothe is just a short distance away from my home and family, and I look forward to bringing the knowledge I have gained here homeward. There are few words that can articulate the impact being the director of the Montana VA has had on me.
The word that comes to mind often is unique. Montana presents the unique opportunity to deliver healthcare to rural Veterans. Places like Glasgow, which is quite literally (and proudly) the middle of nowhere, challenge a health care system to not just provide care, but provide care in ways that won’t force the veteran to travel hundreds of miles for quality care.
Through technology like telehealth, veterans on the Hi-Line and in other parts of the state can receive top-flight care from medical specialists without burden. Add to this the growing use of tele-technology to provide mental health services through mobile devices, and Montana VA is both serving unique veterans and using unique modalities that inspire the future of health care.
Another unique aspect to delivering care in Montana is the presence of American Indian reservations and incorporating traditional healing into the care we provide and the partnerships we’ve had with tribal leaders. The rural, rugged frontier of Montana, the beautiful landscape and the hearty Montana spirit have made my time at Montana a very memorable experience.
The Montana VA Health Care System is a tremendous organization. From the doctors and nurses to support staff to housekeepers and all the professionals behind the scenes, each person tirelessly carries on the mission to serve those who served. I am so proud of your tremendous efforts and will continue to be your supporter.
Finally, Montana Veterans, thank you for your service.
Kathy W. Berger
Editor's note: Dr. Kathy Berger is expected to leave Montana within the next few weeks; an acting director will be named, according to VA Montana.