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Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital


Chuck's Story: Support for Transplant Patients

Veteran Charles (Chuck) Chastain stands proud wearing his Marine hat with the American flag waving in the background.

Chuck is a 63 year old combat Marine who served in Vietnam from November 1967 to November 1968. He currently comes to VA for his health care and is currently eligible for a lung transplant.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Veterans who face life altering medical treatments such as organ transplants need a strong support system.  Support for these Veterans includes family, peers, health care providers, and other resources and tools.  At Truman VA, the Transplant Support Persons Group has become a great resource for Veterans including Charles (Chuck) Chastain.

Former Marine comes to Truman VA
Chuck is a 63 year old combat Marine and 90% disabled Veteran.  He served in Vietnam from November 1967 to November 1968.  He served at Camp Carroll, Con Thien and Charlie 3 with Kilo Battery 4th Battalion, 12th Marines.  During his years of service, he served as Kilo fired artillery support for units in I-corps.

In 1989, Chuck started coming to Truman VA for his care.  Currently, he is being treated for several health conditions and problems. Chuck is pleased with his health care team at Truman VA.  He says, "Dr. Onofrio is a top-notch pulmonary specialist and Dr. Gupta is an excellent pulmonary doctor."  Chuck is eligible for a lung transplant, but not all VA medical centers perform transplants.  Chuck is seen at the VA medical center in Madison, WI for evaluations where the transplant will be performed. 

He Got Involved in his Health
Chuck made some significant changes to improve his health. He quit smoking in 1998.  Since he was diagnosed with a lung condition, he also lost 32 pounds in three months by eating a healthy diet. 

In June 2010, Chuck also joined Truman VA's Transplant Support Persons Group.  The group for Veterans and their support persons meets the first Tuesday of the month.  Transplant recipients learn more about self-care and medication needs.  Caregivers are provided information on various topics including advanced directives and caregiver self-care needs.  Attendees share experiences and provide support as well as learn from outside presenters.

Chuck also started managing his health care online.  He signed up for My HealtheVet in 2010.  With My HealtheVet (, he checks appointments, refills VA prescriptions and gets VA test results.  Using the VA Blue Button in My HealtheVet, Chuck reviews his available VA and self-entered health information in a single file format. Chuck has found this very helpful in managing his care.  He can share his VA Blue Button information with his primary care provider whenever he has questions or concerns.

Chuck and his wife Bonnie have signed up to be organ donors.  "I'm an organ donor. I encourage others to sign up to be an organ donor," Chuck says.  Chuck and Bonnie are looking forward to their upcoming annual reunion with Chuck’s fellow Marines.  They have travelled around the country for this annual reunion.  This year it will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah.

For more information about the Transplant Support Persons Group, contact Tamara Miracle at (573) 814-6000 x53344.


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