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Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital


A New Way to Communicate

John Allen points to iPad while Dr. Riley explains program use.

Veteran John Allen discusses Secure Messaging with Speech Pathologist Lyanne Riley.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Veteran John Allen was one employee who was here on the day Truman VA opened its doors in 1972.  John served in the U.S. Army from 1968-1970. In 1972, he joined Truman VA as the first kitchen supervisor.  Over the years, John served a lot of meals.  On the day Truman VA’s kitchen opened, John recalled they served five patients.  At the peak of his career, John said the kitchen provided meals to 475 patients.  John served Veterans at Truman VA for more than twenty years before he suffered a stroke. 

In 1993, John became a Truman VA patient.  As a result of the stroke, he has dysarthria, which impacts his speech.  It’s hard for John to speak on the phone and communicate with his health care teams.  During his past twenty years, John has worked with Speech Pathologist, Lyanne Riley, PhD, to regain his independence.  Together they have identified strategies and tools to help him be involved in his health care and gain the ability to communicate. 

John was first introduced to computers the year before he had his stroke.  He had to relearn many things, including how to use a computer.  With the help of Dr. Riley, John has started to use new technology to enhance his ability to communicate.  John says, “I signed up for My HealtheVet to be independent.”  He is currently using My HealtheVet to order medication refills, send Secure Messages and view his appointment information.  Using Secure Messaging, John is able to clearly communicate with his health care teams in Primary Care and Speech Pathology.

Dr. Riley is a fan of My HealtheVet.  “The tool of Secure Messaging allows Mr. Allen to communicate with his health care providers and get a response in a timely way.  Being understood on the phone is very difficult,” she says.  Dr. Riley works with other Veterans who have difficulty speaking and she encourages them to use My HealtheVet.

My HealtheVet allows Veterans to get involved with their health care from the comfort of their own home.  If Veterans are interested in using My HealtheVet, they are invited to stop by the My HealtheVet Help Desk located in Truman VA’s main lobby or contact the My HealtheVet Coordinator at (573) 814-6233.  Take John’s word of advice, “Some Veterans are afraid to use it. With instruction, they shouldn’t be afraid.”  Sign up at

Brought to you by the Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program 


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