Sept 16-18: Advisory Committee on OIF/OEF Veterans and Families at the Palo Alto VA Hospital

department of veterans affairs emblem I received this important information from  Erin will be attending this meeting and will be speaking before the VA advisory committee:

Please pass this on, especially to those in the area who may wish to add their voices, experiences.  Details in extended below:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gives notice under Public Law 92–463 (Federal Advisory Committee Act) that the Advisory Committee on OIF/OEF Veterans and Families will conduct a meeting and a site visit in the Palo Alto, California area on September 16–18, 2008. Committee activities will include tours and briefings at various VA facilities.
The purpose of the Committee is to advise the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on the full spectrum of health care, benefits delivery and related family support issues that confront service members during their transition from active duty to veteran status and during their post-service years.
The Committee will focus on the concerns of all men and women with active military service in Operation Iraqi Freedom and/or Operation Enduring Freedom, but will pay particular attention to severely disabled veterans and their families.
The agenda for the September 16–18 meeting will include briefings on recent site visits, discussions on proposed recommendations to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and tours of the VA Medical Center. The Committee will discuss its findings and observations based on previous Committee meetings, site visits, written reports, and personal experiences.

Here are the specifics of the visit by the advisory committee:

On Tuesday, September 16, from 9 a.m. until 12 noon, the Committee will meet at The Cabana Hotel Palo Alto, 4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA. In the afternoon, the Committee will meet at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center, tour the facility and receive briefings from staff.
On Wednesday, September 17, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, the Committee will meet in closed session. The Committee will be meeting with clinicians and individual patients receiving services at VA’s Menlo Park facility. The session will be closed to protect the privacy of the patients and to minimize possible interference with the delivery of medical services. Closing the meeting is in compliance with 5 U.S.C. Sec 552b(c)(6). In the afternoon, from 2 p.m.–5 p.m., the Committee will meet in open session at The Cabana Hotel Palo Alto, 4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA.
On Thursday, September 18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Committee will meet in open session at The Cabana Hotel Palo Alto, 4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA. The meeting will include time reserved for public comments. ******Individuals wishing to make oral statements must pre-register not later than September 10, 2008****** by contacting Syreeta Cherry via e-mail at, and by submitting 1–2 page summaries of their statements for inclusion in the official record of the meeting. Oral statements by the public will be limited to five minutes each and will be received at 3 p.m.–3:30 p.m. on September 17, and 1 p.m.–1:30 p.m. on September 18. Interested individuals may also submit written statements for the Committee’s review to the Advisory Committee on OIF/OEF Veterans and Families (008), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20420.
Any member of the public seeking additional information should contact Laura O’Shea, Designated Federal Officer, at (202) 461–5765.

For more information on the advisory committee for OIF/OEF veterans and families, go to

Sam’s medical status:

Good Day All,
Sam &Erin_Kentfield_9_10_2008
I got to Kentfield in time yesterday morning to watch Erin give Sam a professional shave. Sam has an extremely coarse beard and I’m very surprised she wouldn’t nick him more, but inevitably she did. A little, tiny, dot appeared and she apologized profusely. She playfully bantered, “are you going to smack me”? His hand came up quickly and in a most gentle gesture just stroked her face with love and appreciation…just precious. The first picture is of Sam and Erin after that shave. I asked him to smile, and that kind of crooked Elvis smile is what he achieved. Aren’t they a handsome couple?

He seems much improved from last week’s visit and that one was pretty good.  He still shows some signs of seizures, but they are largely diminished. His body seems to be adapting to the anticonvulsant medication called Dilantin; so he is less groggy and is back to his old self in all of his therapies.  Usually he just does one or two of the primary body exercises; but yesterday he did the standing frame, the prone position, (on his stomach) and sitting balance for his core and lower back. Two, eSam's Best Moto_Kentfield_9_10_2008xtra long sessions, in addition to occupational and speech therapies. Erin reports that they are using a “silver” catheter to reduce the chance of infection. Erin said their “arguments” usually are over who is the most awesome; but one day Erin was telling the nurse something and Sam said; “No I didn’t” and maintained his innocence. Whether accurate or not; it was good to hear his independent thought. Ha! See the second shot for Sam’s best motivation….

The day was perfect and we went out to the deck in between his therapy sessions. Sam enjoys the outdoors, feeling the sunshine on his face and cool breeze, gently blowing. Erin will often push him down the bike trail; (it’s paved) so he gets better scenery than just what is afforded to him at the hospital. I did it once and it tuckered me out; goodness she must be strong for being so tiny…Ha! Yesterday though, we sat and visited and enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t hot like it has been so many days before…As we discussed his care, his cna came in to see if all was well and commented on how good looking he is. He gets that a lot, and it prompted Erin to remark that just about all his doctors, nurses, cna’s, and therapists are women.  This is not only true at Kentfield, but was also true at Palo Alto, Marin General, and Bethesda. It occurred to me that from a spiritual perspective, it couldn’t be more orchestrated by God. When God is given control over a situation, he sends the very best as a resolution to the problem that presents itself. In this case, Sam not only gets the very best medical care possible, but he gets it delivered by caring, nurturing, and loving people.  In Proverbs, Solomon speaks of the “Spirit of Wisdom” in the feminine gender, and have realized for a long time that women possess a certain wisdom that men just don’t have. When God created Eve, he gave her some more of himself then he previously did when he created Adam. Together, we best represent what God truly looks like. Having been surrounded by women all my life; (Mom, Sisters, Sam’s Mom, Aunts and cousins, In-laws, Friends) this truth has been evidenced time and time again. My sister Jan, pointed out recently that God the Father is our idea of an Earthly Dad. Authoritative, just, fair, and of course loving. Jesus is our big brother, getting us out of scrapes and going to bat for us with the Father. The Holy Spirit plays the Mom’s role by bringing us comfort and nurturing just when we need it most. So I say that Sam is largely in the hands of women by design and not by accident; and I thank God for the dedicated women working to restore Sam.  This in no way diminishes my respect for the gentlemen that have given Sam such excellent care to this point, and the several kind and caring men that will have much to do with Sam’s recovery before it is complete.

Just to show Sam’s humor is so Sam Brushing_kentfield_9_9_2008present and ever regaining it’s mobility….Erin was helping him brush his teeth. They have a dental quality brush that suctions out the water and toothpaste as she brushes. Sam does a pretty good job on his own, but Erin helps him to get every square inch of his mouth. As she brushed yesterday, his gums bled a little prompting her to remark that Sam needed to remind her more often to have her help him brush.  As she turned to go wash out the brush in the bathroom sink; Sam called out
in a loud voice, “ERIN”! She was somewhat startled, and turned around to hear Sam say, “BRUSH MY TEETH”! Well, she did ask for a reminder, and through much laughter, she dubbed him “Smart Ass”! Ha!

Much Love,


8 Responses to Sept 16-18: Advisory Committee on OIF/OEF Veterans and Families at the Palo Alto VA Hospital

  1. julie morelli says:

    Thank you for once again sharing the information about the advisory committee meeting. It’s encouraging this is happening and that Erin will be speaking. I never cease to be inspired by the love and faith of Sam, Erin and all of you. Erin and Sam do indeed make a handsome couple and a truly loving one. It’s great to hear Sam ‘expressing his independence’ and his good humor coming through. Thank you again for sharing. You are all a blessing and an inspiration!

    Soldiers’ Angel

  2. So glad you will be there, Erin.

    You are a formidable advocate. I know your presence and contributions that day will help many military family members like you who need their needs and views to be listened to and acted upon.

    My very best, always, to you and your sweet Sam, too.

    Will look fwd to seeing your update (please email me the link if you can and I’ll be happy to cross-post it at my blog).

  3. Lori Peoria says:

    They are a beautiful couple!

  4. I am so blessed to have found this resource. I will be adding a link to my site and to the Orlando Brain Injury Support Group site. I have added Sam and Erin to my prayer list.

  5. Wendy says:

    Hi Erin,
    I wanted to let you know I am praying for you and your speaking engagement with the Advisory Committee. I pray for favor, that Jesus pave the way for you, and that your voice is heard by the committee. I pray for God to strengthen and empower you before this committee, and that the members have a heart for you and your mission.
    May Jesus bless you this day and always. I pray for you and Sam regularly. Erin, I believe in miracles, and I believe in the God of miracles. Here are some prayers for your joy and encouragement. You are such a doll and an inspiration. Have you started your notes for the book yet? 🙂 God bless you!!
    PS- glad you liked your stuff! God always knows us and what we need! Blessings!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Awesome sense of humor!

  7. Wendy says:

    Hi Erin & Sam!
    How was the Advisory Committee Meeting? I am praying that the words and seeds Erin planted will stay with those people and move them to make the changes necessary to improve benefits for our soldiers and veterans. I pray the Lord will continue to impress Erin’s face, your story and her words upon them and inspire them to improve benefits. As a taxpayer….well, I won’t go on a tangent, but I sure would vote to pay for the best care possible for our soldiers who fight for and protect me, my family, my country.
    Many blessings and God’s hugs for you both. I pray fresh encouragement and refreshing for you on a daily basis. Happy Autumn to you today!

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