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East County News Service

May 20, 2016 (San Diego) -- Physician Advocates for Veterans, Inc., an innovative San Diego nonprofit organization providing free patient advocacy services to veterans, has opened a new office, hired its first Executive Director, and launched a capacity building campaign with a generous seed grant from San Diego’s Parker Foundation.

PAVE pairs veterans dealing with medical problems with retired physicians who help them understand their medical diagnoses, make more informed healthcare decisions and help them navigate through complex healthcare systems.

Satisfaction with PAVE’s service runs high among veterans who rate it 4.9 out of 5 across all areas of measurement, according to a PAVE press release.

Jeremy, a Marine infantry combat veteran said, “PAVE has been a solid support network for me. Their staff really cares and goes out of their way to help in any way they can. I didn’t know what questions to ask or how to navigate through the VA medical system very well. PAVE has been very instrumental in giving me a better understanding; helping me know about and get the best medical treatment, and when I have struggled in dealing with the VA, my physician advocate has intervened and helped me to get what I needed.”  

Harvey Shapiro, M.D., co-founder and President of PAVE said, “We owe much of our forward momentum to The Parker Foundation, who provided a $25,000 challenge grant which our Board of Directors and other donors matched. 

Dr. Shapiro commented, “We are very pleased to have Martha Baker, a native San Diegan and seasoned nonprofit executive, join our team. Her experience in marketing, fundraising and strategic planning enables us to hit the ground running and plan for a national roll-out of our veteran advocacy program.”

Started in 2013 as a project of the San Diego County Medical Society, PAVE branched out in 2015, getting its own nonprofit designation and expanding fundraising efforts. Key to all of the expansion was the exponential growth in the number of veterans being served.

Any veteran of any era or discharge status (or a family member or caregiver who has a question or concern about the veteran’s health) can contact PAVE via the website ( or the veteran assist hotline (858-753-5873). A retired nurse coordinator enrolls the veteran and assigns a Physician Advocate who contacts the veteran within 48 hours. This eases prolonged wait times which can contribute to veteran frustration. Physician Advocates do not treat veterans, however, they do spend whatever time is required by the veterans to ask questions and better comprehend their medical issues and choices. Better understanding of medical issues empowers veterans to make well-informed decisions which lead to improved health outcomes.

“PAVE-prepared veterans can increase the efficiency of the interactions they have with their medical team thereby saving both time and money,” commented Shapiro.

PAVE’s new office at San Diego’s 2-1-1 Connections Center in Kearny Mesa leverages networking within their Military and Veterans’ Resource Center. PAVE is not affiliated with any Department of Defense agency or the Veterans Administration. PAVE collaborates with more than two dozen other veteran-serving organizations through its outreach  programs.