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In the various roles he has undertaken through the years, Val J. Halamandaris has been a singular driving force behind the policy and program initiatives resulting in the recognition of home health care as a viable alternative to institutionalization. His dedication to consumer advocacy, which enhances the quality of life and dignity of those receiving home health care, merits VNA HealthCare Group’s highest recognition and deepest respect. 

VNA HealthCare Group

I have the highest respect for them, especially for the nurses, aides and therapists, who devote their lives to caring for people with disabilities, the infirm and dying Americans.  There are few more noble professions.

President Barack Obama

Home health care agencies do such a wonderful job in this country helping people to be able to remain at home and allowing them to receive services

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Chair, Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee

Home care is a combination of compassion and efficiency.  It is less expensive than institutional care...but at the same time it is a more caring, human, intimate experience, and therefore it has a greater human’s a big mistake not to try to maximize it and find ways to give people the home care option over either nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA)

Medicaid covers long-term care, but only for low-income families.  And Medicare only pays for care that is connected to a hospital discharge....our health care system must cover these vital services...[and] we should promote home-based care, which most people prefer, instead of the institutional care that we emphasize now.

Former U.S. Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-CD)

We need incentives to...keep people in home health care settings...It’s dramatically less expensive than long term care.

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)


Home care is clearly the wave of the future. It’s clearly where patients want to be cared for. I come from an ethnic family and when a member of our family is severely ill, we would never consider taking them to get institutional care. That’s true of many families for both cultural and financial reasons. If patients have a choice of where they want to be cared for, where it’s done the right way, they choose home.

Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

A couple of years ago, I spent a little bit of time with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and its president, Val J. Halamandaris, and I was just blown away. What impressed me so much was that they talked about what they do as opposed to just the strategies of how to deal with Washington or Sacramento or Albany or whatever the case may be. Val is a fanatic about care, and it comes through in every way known to mankind. It comes through in the speakers he invites to their events; it comes through in all the stuff he shares.

Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

Val’s home care organization brings thousands of caregivers together into a dynamic organization that provides them with valuable resources and tools to be even better in their important work. He helps them build self-esteem, which leads to self-motivation.

Mike Vance, former Dean of Disney and author of Think Out of the Box

Val is one of the greatest advocates for seniors in America. He goes beyond the call of duty every time.

Arthur S. Flemming, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Val has brought the problems, the challenges, and the opportunities out in the open for everyone to look at. He is a visionary pointing the direction for us. 

Margaret (Peg) Cushman, Professor of Nursing and former President of the Visiting Nurses Association

Although Val has chosen to stay in the background, he deserves much of the credit for what was accomplished both at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he was closely associated with me and at the House Select Committee on Aging, where he was Congressman Claude Pepper’s senior counsel and closest advisor. He put together more hearings on the subject of aging, wrote more reports, drafted more bills, and had more influence on the direction of events than anyone before him or since.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Val’s most important contribution is pulling together all elements of home health care and being able to organize and energize the people involved in the industry.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Anyone working on health care issues in Congress knows the name Val J. Halamandaris.

Kathleen Gardner Cravedi, former Staff Director of the House Select Committee on Aging

Without your untiring support and active participation, the voices of people advocating meaningful and compassionate health care reform may not have been heard by national leaders.

Michael Sullivan, Former Executive Director, Indiana Association for Home Care

All of us have been members of many organizations and NAHC is simply the best there is. NAHC aspires to excellence in every respect; its staff has been repeatedly honored as the best in Washington; the organization lives by the highest values and has demonstrated a passionate interest in the well-being of patients and providers.

Elaine Stephens, Director of Home Care of Steward Home Care/Steward Health Systems and former NAHC C

Home care increasingly is one of the basic building blocks in the developing system of long-term care.  On both economic and recuperative bases, home health care will continue to grow as an essential service for individuals, for families and for the community as a whole.

Former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

NCOA is excited to be part of this great event and honored to have such influential award winners in the field of aging.

National Council of Aging

Health care at home…is something we need more of, not less of.  Let us make a commitment to preventive and long-term care.  Let us encourage home care as an alternative to nursing homes and give folks a little help to have their parents there.

Former President Bill Clinton


Mudslide Not an Act of God

By Carl Hammerschlag

The massive landslide that killed 41 people in March came without warning. It happened so quickly that there was no chance for people to run for safety. It swallowed homes, businesses, and cars, all holding lifeless bodies. The oozing mud continues to bubble forth artifacts — wallets, paintings, uniforms, toys — all the remnants of lives well lived.

The insurance companies call this an “act of God.” That’s the legal term to describe an event outside of human control for which no one can be held responsible. But this was not an act of God. It was an act of irresponsible over logging and there were warnings for decades about the very hillside that collapsed.

Oso, Washington, lies in a stunningly beautiful, picture-postcard valley on the banks of the Stillaguamish River. The Stilly, as locals call it, is world-famous for its fly-fishing in crystal clear waters that I waded almost 50 years ago. I was an intern in Seattle at the time, and I still recall the mountains covered with thick forests of old-growth trees. But those forests are no more. There is a powerful lumber industry here, and over the last 30 years these woods been excessively logged until no tree has been left standing.

Years before the landslide, geologists warned that the hill above the residential area in Oso could suffer a catastrophic collapse. Among them was Seattle-based geomorphologist Daniel Miller, who said he would never have built a house where the disaster occurred. He co-wrote a 1999 report for the Army Corps of Engineers that looked at options to reduce sediments from landslides in the area. The 50-page study identified “a very large volume of material that could potentially become unstable,” Miller recalled. Matters had not improved in 2001 when he prepared a second report for a local Native American tribe and again warned of “a significant risk to human lives and property” at the slide site.

The Stillaguamish Indians, who have lived there forever, have also issued warnings. They always knew that such large-scale manipulation of their natural world would yield serious consequences. They warned us and the scientists warned us, but they were not heeded. Building in the area spanned decades, but a number of homes on a street hit by the mudslide were built after the danger became clear.

Native Americans are still praying and warning us. The Bad River Band of the Anishinabe people is fighting against the powerful mining industry in Wisconsin. The Anishinabe live just down river from a proposed iron ore mine that will be the world’s largest open pit mine. It’s slated to be four miles long, a half-mile wide, and nearly 1,000 feet deep — but it could be extended as long as 21 miles. The industrial waste from this mine will pollute the waters of this pristine wilderness because there are sulfides in the iron-bearing rocks. When exposed to air and water the sulfides oxidize and make the water acidic. That means the fish will die here, just like they did in Kentucky and West Virginia. When they do, they’ll take with them a piece of the Anishinabe soul.

In keeping with the Anishinabe tribal tradition, members of the Bad River Band think about land and water with the same respect they think of the elder members of their tribe. Just like grandparents, the land and water provide home, food, and life for generations of families.

The Anishinabe want to leave this land to their great grandchildren at least as well as they found it. They make all decisions on the basis of how it will affect the seventh generation. They are fighting to save their tribe; they are fighting for the State of Wisconsin; and they are fighting for our soul as a nation. We ought to be praying and fighting along with them.

These catastrophic disasters are not acts of God, and they are not outside of human control. Instead, they are a tribute to our arrogance and greed, according to Joe Rose, a professor of Native American studies and member of the Bad River Band. “We have to start thinking a new way, not about economic activity but about things that are priceless. We must challenge and eliminate corporate greed,” Rose said. “We are undergoing a paradigm shift from values based on money and political power to the new times where wealth is measured in clean water, fresh air, and pristine wilderness. Anishinabe have been given the responsibility to share the knowledge of how to live in harmony with creation.” We should learn from them if we want to have lives well lived.


Carl A. Hammerschlag, M.D., is a psychiatrist, author, and professional keynote speaker. He is an authority in the science of psychoneuroimmunology — mind, body, and spirit medicine — and speaks about health and wellness, healing, leadership, and authenticity. He has delivered motivational keynote speeches to corporate and business clients around the world. For more information, visit

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