VA Telehealth Is Part of This Vietnam Veteran’s Approach to Pain Management

Army Veteran William Vaughn

Army Veteran William Vaughn didn’t know his Huey helicopter was sharing airspace over Vietnam in 1969 when a plane overshadowed him and his crew and sprayed them with a powerful herbicide that packed a lifelong punch. “We were heavily dosed with those types of herbicides throughout the war,” Vaughn said. “Combine these exposures with a couple crash landings, and my health was never the same.”

Today, Vaughn is 90% service disabled and diagnosed with PTSD and chronic back pain. He also has peripheral neuropathy, which causes numbness, sharp pains, and muscle weakness in his extremities. “Battling Seattle traffic on the way to the VA Medical Center was always a challenge and amplified the pain since many of my symptoms are brought on by stress.”

That’s when Vaughn was referred to Dr. Erika Shearer, a TeleMental Health psychologist within the VA Puget Sound Health Care System who offers virtual visits through VA Video Connect. Now they meet every two weeks. Vaughn also credits virtual visits and VA telehealth technologies with helping him stay healthy while following COVID-19 social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders.

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