Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.

National Guard Veteran Jonathan Hinker and his wife Jacqui are transforming Veterans’ lives in rural southern New Jersey. They’re doing so by spreading the news about the power of virtual health.

Veterans in these communities can use tools from VA’s Office of Connected Care to avoid long drives to the nearest VA medical center (VAMC) for certain appointments.

“These technologies are life-changing for Veterans, and they really work,” Hinker said. “Why would I not share them with my fellow Veterans?”

The nearest VAMC is over an hour and a half from Hinker’s home in Cape May, New Jersey. Since he began using virtual health tools, Jonathan receives most of his VA care from home or at the VA community-based outpatient clinic down the street.

Hinker started using My HealtheVet over 10 years ago and VA Video Connect in 2018.

My HealtheVet is VA’s patient portal. It lets Veterans send secure messages to their providers, download health records, manage appointments and refill VA prescriptions online. In addition, VA Video Connect lets Veterans participate in live interactive video telehealth appointments with their VA care teams from home.

“Thanks to VA technology, I no longer have to spend the entire day going to an appointment,” said Hinker.

Veteran Jonathan Hinker and Jacqui Hinker.

Veterans Helping Veterans

Hinker said another Veteran told him about VA Connected Care tools. As a result, now he’s spreading the word to as many other Veterans as he can.

Hinker is the commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6257 in Belleplain, New Jersey. He organizes regular My HealtheVet and VA Video Connect training sessions. After VFW meetings, he also helps Veterans register on My HealtheVet. They use computers that were donated to the post.

Jacqui is the VFW post’s auxiliary president and a VA employee. She said the ability to provide demonstrations at the post is great for its members.

“It’s Veterans helping Veterans and it’s just a beautiful thing to see.”

Word about Hinker’s training sessions on VA technologies is spreading beyond Belleplain. He is enlisting VFW members to call other Veterans to introduce them to VA virtual health tools. Both he and Jacqui have worked with nearby VFW and American Legion posts and Vietnam Veterans of America chapters to have training sessions with their members, too.

“Once Veterans try My HealtheVet and VA Video Connect, they realize how easy they are to use,” Hinker said. “It’s all about education. Getting them to sit down and see that it works. You just have to use it to see that it’s so easy to make it work. The more people who know about and use this technology, the easier it will make their lives.”

Peace of Mind for Caregivers

Jacqui has worked at VA for over two years. She has seen firsthand the struggles that Veterans and their families encounter. She also has seen how VA digital health tools, such as My HealtheVet, can help.

“You see these things that are difficult to navigate. You see things that frustrate the Veterans and you want to take that frustration away. My HealtheVet does that.”

Jacqui said My HealtheVet has helped her and her husband to have more control over his care. Rather than schedule appointments and wait for phone calls, the Hinkers now have access to his VA providers and prescriptions from home through the online platform.

“It’s peace of mind for the Veteran and the family, knowing that they have some control over the situation,” said Jacqui.

Learn More and Get Started

Treva Lutes works in the Office of Connected Care, Communications, Veterans Health Administration.

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Published on Jan. 15, 2020

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