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    Secretary of Veterans Affairs Extends Committee Appointment

    REMC Program Director, Dr. John P. Albano, receives letter of extension.

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Russell Lindsey | 220826-N-BC658-0090 PENSACOLA, FL (Aug. 26, 2022) Dr. John P. Albano, director of REMC...... read more read more

    NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA, Fla. – Recently, Secretary of Veterans Affairs (SECVA) Denis Richard McDonough decided to extend Dr. John P. Albano, MD’s appointment to the Veterans Affairs’ Advisory Committee on Former Prisoners of War (VA AC FPOW).

    “I am so excited to continue to be a part of this committee and to help and advocate for those who have endured so much,” said Albano.

    In his letter of extension and re-appointment, SECVA stated "[t]he Committee's advice and recommendations have provided the impetus for improvements in the administration of various VA programs and benefits for former prisoners of war. Much of this success is attributable to your service on the Committee."

    Federal advisory committees are a key component of the VA’s overall strategy to achieve stakeholder and public engagement in its efforts and commitment to serve Veterans, their families, and Survivors. The VA AC FPOW is one of the select advisory committees mandated by Congress to ensure that federal laws, as carried out by the executive branch, are meeting their intended goals. The recommendations of the VA AC FPOW go straight to SECVA via his Advisory Committee Management Office.

    “I’m very pleased and excited to continue support to our service members both past and present,” said Albano. “The information we’ve been able to provide is critical to getting them the benefits, both medical and non-medical, that they deserve and which will be carried over to those involved in future conflicts”.

    Albano, a retired Army Colonel and flight surgeon, has been the Program Director for the Robert E. Mitchell Center (REMC) for POW Studies since 2018. His initial appointment to the AC FPOW was in 2020.

    Located aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, the REMC Prisoner of War Studies is the Department of Defense’s (DoD) designated center for all the military services, to include active duty, retired, and veteran repatriated POWs. One of the additional benefits of this program is that its clinical findings have been instrumental in advising private physicians, VA physicians, and care givers on their treatment and care for this special group of service members.

    This special program of the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute has the unique mission of providing follow-up evaluations to repatriated prisoners of war (RPOWs). These studies of service members from Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom allow researchers to study the long term mental and physical effects of captivity and to address the findings applicability to current and future military operations.

    “It’s incredibly important to continue this program’s research for the many unanswered questions, especially when one considers future near-peer conflicts and the ramifications,” said Albano. “The Program also clearly demonstrates DoD’s commitment in keeping faith with our Nation’s warriors, who have borne the battle and endured harsh captivity.”

    The program originally began life as a DoD 5-year mandate that started upon the repatriation of former Vietnam-era POWs during Operation Homecoming 1973. In 1976, under the direction of Capt. Robert E. Mitchell, who the center is named after, the Navy added a comparison group to the study in order to better understand the results they were getting. While the other branches completed their initial evaluations and ended their respective programs, the Navy did not and the research they subsequently collected was instrumental in helping POWs repatriate after Desert Storm. In the 1990s, the Army and Air Force rejoined the evaluation program and REMC became the official DoD center which just this year celebrated 49 years of longitudinal medical and psychological data gathering.

    “One of my biggest goals is not only to continue what we have been doing but also to provide a greater value to the entire Personnel Recovery and Reintegration Community. From a current operations perspective, provide medical advice and consultation on the recovery aspect. From a Fleet and Field perspective, provide potential medical personnel schoolhouse training on the PR Recovery Reintegration process. And from a research perspective, provide a de-identified database such that academic scholars can run their own POW studies, which would contribute a larger general knowledge base of effects of POW captivity,” said Albano.

    Although the REMC does not do research specifically for the AC FPOW or VA (unless the latter funds a particular collaborative), REMC's very first Research Psychologist organized, orchestrated, and published a study on bone density for RPOWs. The study's findings, which made significant and immediate impact, were the driving force in allowing the Veterans Benefits Administration to authorize a new Presumptive Disability for Osteoporosis for the RPOWs.

    “It is a distinct and humbling honor to continue to serve, in both the VA AC FPOW and the REMC, those in the POW cohort who have come before us and prepare for those after us,” Albano concluded.

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    Date Taken: 08.26.2022
    Date Posted: 09.12.2022 19:10
    Story ID: 429144
    Location: PENSACOLA, FL, US

    Web Views: 388
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