VA’s Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence (MSCoE) teamed up in March 2019 with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) to improve care for Veterans and their families.

On the anniversary of the partnership, we reaffirm our goal: To improve the quality and consistency of health care services delivered to Veterans who live with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). As a result of the partnership, Veterans and other stakeholders have seen improved diagnosis and treatment.

MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease. Specifically, it affects the central nervous system, disrupting the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body.

Nick Mangus, an artillery Veteran living with MS, was diagnosed in 1988.

He continued to work his job, dealing with his symptoms as they occurred. Since 2012, Nick has relied on two organizations to help him with the challenges of MS: VA and NMSS.

“Because I was non deployable due to my diagnosis, I felt that I had to do the right thing and retire,” said Mangus. “The VA staff has been nothing short of outstanding.”

In the photo above, Mangus speaks at the anniversary ceremony as Dr. Heidi Maloni, VHA health provider, assists him.

Estimated 70,000 Veterans living with MS

Mangus is one of an estimated 70,000 Veterans living with MS. VA local facilities annually care for at least 20,000 Veterans who have MS.

Most experience the first signs of the disease between the ages of 20 and 40. MS symptoms tend to come and go or get worse over time, which is a factor attributed to frequent misdiagnosis.

Established in 2003, MSCoE seeks to improve MS diagnosis and treatment through a host of regional support programs. The MSCoE is focused on clinical care, research and development, and education and training. It also focuses on state-of-the-art informatics and telemedicine to improve health care delivery.

Through its partnership with NMSS, VA hopes to provide Veterans, caregivers, health care providers and other affiliates with maximum quality of life for Veterans who live with MS.

The strength of collaborations

“VA recognizes and values the strength of collaborations with our external partners. Together, we can help increase access to care and lead to a more fulfilled quality of life,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

NMSS is partnering with VA clinicians to increase their knowledge about the disease. They also help identify new treatment and increase management strategies. The goal is to help people access the care they need to live their best lives.

“Veterans living with multiple sclerosis need our support,” said Cyndi Zagieboylo, president and chief executive officer of the NMSS. “This agreement is a very clear commitment from the federal government and the society that we are here for them and will be here for them.”

MSCoE consists of coordinating centers in Seattle and Portland for the western United States and in Baltimore for the eastern U.S. Approximately 70 regional MS programs are located throughout the U.S.

Find the nearest VA clinics and MS Centers of Excellence online.  

Megan Jones is a communications specialist with Patient Care Services.

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Published on Mar. 25, 2020

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