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National VA Chaplain Center Extends Its Helping Hand.
2008 the National VA Chaplain Center hosted Russian General Lieutenant Zolotariov Oleg Valentinovich for a day of orientation and briefings.  Staff of the National Chaplain Center and the Hampton VA medical center described VA Chaplaincy and VA's rehabilitation programs for veterans.

This historic meeting was held in response to a recommendation by the Military Chaplains Association to Olive Branch International.  General Zolotariov is visiting the U.S. to learn about our health care programs for veterans in order to Explore the initiation of programs in Russia to care for their own veterans who have borne the battle.
General Zolotariov was accompanied by Bruce Kittleson.  President of Olive Branch International, Chaplain Gary R. Pollitt, USN / Executive Board Member of the military Chaplains Association, and Michael Tihomirov, Col,USAF (Ret) who served as the interpreter for the day.

General Lieutenant Zolotariov is a professor in the Russian Military Academy of the General Headquarters and has a Ph. D. in Historical Science.  He is a leading specialist in the Institute of the Social-Political Research of the Russian Academic Science and is an active member in the Military Academy Science, the Political Academic Science, and the International Academy of Information. He is a specialist in the area of geopolitics, geostrategy, national security, political science, ethics, and religion.

The goals of the training were to:  a)  Provide an overview of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  b)  Provide interchange between the Director of the National Chaplain Center.
(Jeni Cook, D.Min) and the Direcor of the Hampton VA Medical Center ( B.W. Story, Ph.D).  and other leaders in the VA.  c)  Provide briefings and exposure to active rehabilitation programs for veterans.  d)  Provide reading materials that would be helpful in follow-up research.  e)  Provide an ongoing relationship with Russia through the Olive Branch International Organization where opportunities present themselves to extend a helping hand and promote good relationships in veteran health care.
Chaplain Jeni Cook, Director, Chaplain Center, and B.W. Story, Director, Hampton VA Medical Center began the day's briefing for the General.  He engaged them in an enthusiastic interchange of questions ranging from the types of medical sub-specialties offered by the VA medical center to how the medical center receives its funding.

Presentations on the mission and overview of the VA, and role of chaplains were made by Chaplain Michael McCoy, Associate Director, Chaplain Service; Chaplain Charles Smith, Chief, Chaplain Service Hampton VAMC.  Priscilla Hankins, M.D. Staff Psychiatrist, and Marinell Miller, Ph.D., PCT Coordinator gave briefings on VA's treatment of Post Traumatic Stress.  Mr. Donald Doherty, Social Science Specialist gave a briefing on Substance Abuse Programs, and James Goalder, Ph.D.,Staff Psychologist gave a briefing of the role of the psychologist in these programs.  Jamal Ghazinour, M.D. Chief, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service provided a walking tour to demonstrate to the General the several types of equipment used to rehabilitate veterans in his program.  Mrs. Ruth Holmes, Service Line Manager Spinal Cord Injury Service then briefed General Zolotariov and gave him a tour of the spinal cord injury unit.  The General engaged in conversations with several of the spinal cord injury patients and stated that they were very heart warming.

Completing the day of orientation was Mr. Frederick Lee, Rehabilitation Planning Specialist, Office of Associate Director Psychosocial Rehabilitation Service MHSHB/HDQTRS who provided a briefing, and a tour of the "Veterans Industries" Compensated Work Therapy program.

General Zolotariov expressed his appreciation several times during the day for the valuable insight he received.  He stated before leaving that he would look forward to another visit, and one day perhaps an exchange visit.  The VA staff members were grateful for the opportunity to share their pride in serving America's veterans.
Contact Sgt. Edward Gomez USMC Rt.
Editorial Department of usmca@usmca.net

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