The College of Podiatric Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences has announced the appointment of Lester J. Jones, DPM, MS Ed, to the Special Medical Advisory Group (SMAG) that advises the U.S. secretary and undersecretary for health.

Jones, Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at CPM, was appointed to a two-year term on March 17, 2012, by Undersecretary for Health Robert A. Petzel, M.D., who reports to Secretary for Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki, who is a member of President Obama’s Cabinet.

Jones will represent the podiatric medical profession and will serve as one of several members of the health professions providing advice and counsel on health care delivery for U.S. veterans.

SMAG advises the secretary and the undersecretary for health on the care and treatment of disabled veterans and other matters related to the Veterans Health Administration, including education and training of health care professionals, research, and the VA’s role in support of Department of Defense and Homeland Security missions.

Jones said homelessness and access and timeliness of care are major concerns for veterans, as are the challenges associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“”If I were to focus on one thing, I would like to make sure there isn’t a single veteran from the moment of discharge from the armed services who doesn’t receive healthcare in a timely manner, with the care and confidence that they deserve,”” Jones said. “”I would also like to see that families of the veterans have equitable access to health care in a similar manner.””

Two other WesternU administrators have served on the SMAG in past years: Ben Cohen, DO, former WesternU Provost and Adviser to the President for Strategic Planning, and College of Podiatric Medicine Founding Dean Lawrence Harkless, DPM.

Jones has vast experience with veterans. In 1997, he was appointed department chair for podiatric medicine and surgery at the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, one of the largest and most sophisticated academic health science centers in the U.S.

While at VA Greater Los Angeles, he held two positions: Associate Chief of Staff for Quality Assurance, and Department Chair/Chief of Podiatric Surgery. He developed the first comprehensive limb preservation clinics in the VA system, and effected change in the quality of care provided to veterans from a more global perspective.

“”His recognized leadership in academic administration, clinical education, and quality improvement has prepared him well for this position in serving the nation’s veterans,”” Harkless said.

Jones said he’ll help advance an agenda focusing on the quality of health care for veterans from a general medical perspective, as well as a podiatric medical perspective.

“”We also have a lot of veterans coming back from war that have suffered loss of limb, and I think podiatric medicine can have a major impact on that area,”” he said.