In 1965 when SPC4 Jim Shea shipped out to Vietnam, he didn’t give a lot of thought to his heart. He was young and healthy. His primary concern was doing his job and not letting down his buddies in the 630th Engineer Company. He served honorably but is still occasionally haunted by the memory of helicopter bays being cleaned with a fire hose during the battle of Ia Drang, immortalized in the book and movie of the same title, We Were Soldiers Once and Young.
In 2012, however, Jim was keenly aware of issues with his heart. His father had died of a heart attack and Jim had required a catherization and the insertion of three stents in 2000. As a Vietnam Veteran, he enrolled in VA health care and began receiving care at the Lebanon VA Medical Center. He also enrolled in the telehealth program which monitors his vital signs and other important health related matters before sending a daily report to the medical center.
In February 2012, Jim received a call from his nurse Debbie Wagner; she told him she had just reviewed his daily report. She asked him a couple more questions and then instructed him to have his wife bring him to the emergency department immediately. Within 10 minutes of arriving, Debbie’s suspicions were confirmed – Jim was having a heart attack!
Fortunately for Jim and his wife Connie, the former Army engineer was able to receive the surgical intervention he needed. Thanks to the state-of-the-art telehealth program and his nurse’s quick action, Jim has recovered and he’s back to doing the things he loves. A soft spoken man of few words, Jim summarizes this all by simply saying, “the VA saved my life.”