During his time in the Marine Corps, Alex Yawor, Bronze Star recipient and World War II Veteran, was sent scouting to use his self-taught art skills to draw sketches of islands in the South Pacific.

When he returned home, Yawor used art to provide comfort and support to families of service members by painting portraits honoring the sacrifices of those who served. He sent the completed portraits, along with a handwritten poem, to the Veterans’ families.

He was sketching his 170th portrait when he had a second stroke at 96.

Yawor couldn’t return home due to the care he needed after this stroke, and his daughter, Sharon Semenko, needed to find the best facility for him.

VA had previously linked Semenko to Christina Lonigro, a Veterans initiative specialist for Advocate Health Advisors, to help with the necessary paperwork to obtain aid and attendance after his first stroke.

Due to their time working together on his care, Semenko was able to place Yawor in a beautiful personal care home following the second stroke.

“Multiple visits to our home after work”

“After she was done working, she would come to my house, sit there, and help me fill out all these forms,” Semenko said. “I don’t even know how many visits she made to our home. If it wasn’t for her aid and attendance, my dad wouldn’t have lived as long as he did.”

He died in 2021 at the age of 98.

Yawor's art helped comfort others

Yawor used art to provide comfort and support to families of service members.

The partnership between Advocate Health Advisors and the Pittsburgh Veteran Community Partnership (VCP) connects Veterans, caregivers and their families to VA and non-VA benefits. Lonigro grew up in a military household and understands the military culture, service-connected disabilities and how to help Veterans access resources.

VCPs are collaborations that bring community leaders and community organizations together with VA medical center programs to help Veterans access health care and supportive services at VA and beyond.

Advocate Health Advisors and Pittsburgh VCP focus on helping Veterans get the benefits they earned through VA and then match them with the best Medicare plan. Both Pittsburgh VCP and Advocate Health Advisors prioritize trauma-informed care by extending Veteran-specific mental health educational programs to community health care professionals.

Provide Veterans the benefits they’ve earned

“It’s part of our mission in VCP to be educators, provide support and have resources available,” Lonigro added. “This partnership between Advocate Health Advisors and Pittsburgh is building a bridge of resources available to Veterans. It creates awareness of the value of working together to provide Veterans with all the benefits they’ve earned.”

VCP initiative is a collaboration between the Veterans Health Administration, Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care, and National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships.

There is also support from other VA offices, including Rural Health, Care Management and Social Work, Caregiver Support, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, and Center for Development and Civic Engagement.

Each VCP addresses the unique needs of Veterans in the communities in which they live… just as it did for Yawor.

Information about Advocate Health Advisors Veterans Initiative.

Learn more about HAP.

By Dr. Tracy L. Weistreich is nurse executive for the VHA National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships

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Published on Feb. 10, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.7 min.

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