Inauguration of the first service for veterans in the medical center of Northern Mindanao

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QUEZON CITY – The Philippine Veterans Affairs Bureau (PVAO), in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) and Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), hosted the dedication ceremony and surrender of Dr. Antonio Julian C. Montalvan Veterans Ward at NMMC in Cagayan de Oro on August 9, 2022. The new ward is the first ever completed and inaugurated veterans ward in the country, and was established to address the lack of health facilities that specifically cater to the medical needs of veterans living in remote areas.

During the program, Undersecretary Ernesto G. Carolina, who was PVAO’s administrator during the launch and completion of the project, detailed the long years of planning and lobbying for the construction of a healthcare outside of Quezon City where the only veterans hospital, VMMC is located. He recounted how a series of consultations and meetings between the PVAO, DOH and VMMC led to the decision to establish veterans services in public hospitals nationwide, a government initiative mandated by state law. Rep. No. 6948, Section 17, as amended by Rep. Law #7696, Section 6. Thus, in December 2020, a Joint Administrative Order between the DOH and the Department of National Defense (DND) was issued to provide guidelines for the establishment of Veterans Quarters.

“Sabi ng DOH, ‘Maglagay lang care for veterans, care for all veterans. Unahin natin in Mindanao.’ Kaya una naming napili ang Northern Mindanao Medical Center, and of course, Davao, kasama ang Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC),” USec Caroline explained.

PVAO first transferred PhP 15 million each to NMMC and SPMC for the construction of veterans quarters. An additional PhP 10 million was also provided to each hospital for the purchase of equipment to be used only by veterans.

“What’s difficult about it is that it will be the model because it’s the first… And it will be the benchmark,” USec said. Caroline added.

Meanwhile, NMMC Director Jose Chan read the message from DOH Undersecretary Lilibeth David, who explained the importance of the Veterans Quarters. “The creation of the Veterans Service ensures the inclusion and centering of veterans and their eligible dependents in the transformation of our health care delivery towards universal health care. The Veterans Hall is the humble contribution of the health sector to honor the lives of our heroes,” he read.

“The Veterans Affairs Service also represents the joint efforts of the Department of Health and the Department of National Defense to fulfill the health-related mandates of laws that benefit veterans,” USec. David added.

Guest of honor and keynote speaker, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus B. Rodriguez said the establishment of the veterans quarters at NMMC is very strategic as Cagayan de Oro is the gateway to Mindanao.

As a veteran welfare champion, Rep. Rodriguez pledged to continue fighting for the benefits of Filipino veterans. “I would like to promise General Mapagu that I will continue to fight for more funds for our veterans. You will be there and we will make sure we have additional funds for these medical expenses,” he said.

Incoming PVAO Administrator, Undersecretary Reynaldo B. Mapagu, graced the event on behalf of the Department of National Defense Officer in Charge, Principal Undersecretary Jose C. Faustino Jr. USec. Mapagu conveyed Senior Undersecretary Faustino’s message of congratulations and support to the newly inaugurated Veterans Service.

“Being of advanced age, our veterans are more susceptible to illnesses and ailments. As such, one of our government’s priorities is to improve our veterans’ access to quality health care services across the country,” USec said. Mapagu read.

“Appropriately named after Kagay-anon war hero Dr. Antonio Julian Montalvan who served as an outstanding physician and intelligence officer for the 10th Military District during World War II, there is no doubt in our minds that this service will be used to the maximum for the veteran community in the region,” he added.

Mr. Ed Montalvan, nephew of WWII hero Dr. Montalvan expressed his gratitude for the honor of naming the Veterans Quarters after his late uncle. “This is the first honor Antonio Julian Montalvan has received as a hero and we want to thank the Veterans Administration for that,” he said.

NMMC’s Dr. Antonio Julian C. Montalvan Veterans Service will be used exclusively for Filipino veterans and their qualified dependents. The ward houses a treatment room, nursing station, visitors’ lounge, and separate bedrooms for female and male veterans. It can accommodate up to 25 patients. Construction on the project began in March 2020 and is now open to Filipino veterans in the area to receive health care and medical treatment.

Four (4) other quarters for veterans are currently under construction and should be completed within the year. These include Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City, Batangas Medical Center in Batangas City, and Eastern Visayas Medical Center in Tacloban City.

The establishment of Veterans Services was launched to expand the Veterans Hospitalization and Medical Care Program which aims to provide hospitalization and medical benefits, including reimbursement for certain medications and medical procedures, to veterans Filipinos and their qualifying dependents through the VMMC and other accredited PVAO-VMMC. public and private hospitals. Since veterans and beneficiaries residing in remote areas of the country cannot easily travel to access treatment provided by VMMC in Quezon City, the establishment of veterans services nationwide will enable veterans to receive health services without having to travel far. (POAP)

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