This year’s National Nurses Week theme is “Nurses: Leading the Way.” More than 90,000 VA nurses lead the way every day, ensuring that 8.92 million Veterans and their families receive the care they deserve. In fact, each day VA schedules 236,000 outpatient appointments, conducts 1,100 medical surgeries and 49,315 mental health appointments at 1,750 point of care facilities. VA nurses provide inpatient care to about 650,000 patients and manage more than 75 million outpatient visits each year!
Many of our nurses began leading the way long before they first took a step in to a VA facility. VA is a natural draw to many transitioning Veterans and this is particularly true for Veteran nurses who wish to continue taking care of their brothers and sisters in arms.
Highlighted below are just a few of our Veteran nurses who continue to care for their own.
Serene Wettstein served in the U.S. Army from 1986 – 1993. She deployed to operation Desert storm in 1990. Serene worked at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in oncology. She is now working at the VA medical center in Dayton, Ohio as a certified nurse practitioner in mental health services.
Linda Taylor served in the U.S. Army Reserve Nurse Corps for 23 years, retiring in 2003 as a Lieutenant Colonel. She served as a registered nurse, nurse manager and later attached to a field surgery unit. Linda Taylor is now a registered nurse with the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center’s home based primary care unit in Albany, New York.
Neredia Santiago served in the U.S. Air Force for 13 years. She is now a registered nurse working in wound care at the Dayton VA Medical Center in Ohio.
Keri Gray served in the U.S. Army from 1998 – 2005 as a field medic and Army recruiter. She is now a registered nurse at the Dayton VA Medical Center in Ohio.
Gale Bell serves as the Women Veterans Program Manager and Clinic Coordinator for the Washington, D.C. VA Medical Center. Ms. Bell has committed a great deal of her career to caring for the men and women who serve or have served in the armed forces. She was Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant from the ROTC program at Hampton University and served honorably in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in various staff nurse positions at Womack Army Medical Center Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In 2010, Ms. Bell was awarded the Woman of the Year Award by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and was honored as the Women Veterans Rock’s “Agency Advocate of the Year” in November 2012. Currently she personally oversees the Women Veterans Program which has more than 16,000 enrollees.
Andrew Wolkstein served in the U.S. Air Force from 1983 – 2010 as a flight nurse. He most recently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Andrew now works in VHA Interagency Health Affairs, Outreach Collaboration Office as a liaison to the National Guard/Reserves.
Debbie Morgan served a total of 17 years with the U.S. Army Reserve, Tennessee Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve as a flight nurse. Debbie is a registered nurse at VA Sikeston Community-Based Outpatient Clinic, at the John J Pershing VA Medical Center in Sikeston, Missouri where she takes care of Veterans every day.
Walter Mitchell served in the U.S. Army from 1982-1989 and is currently still in the U.S. Army Reserve. He deployed to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm as a laboratory technician and clinical instructor. Walter is a registered nurse at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas. He says, “I like being around Veterans both as coworkers and patients. I have been with the VA for 6 years, all of them here at this VA. I currently recover patients after surgery and love what I do here at the VA.”
Pedro Ramon-Hernandez served in the U.S. Army from 1985 – 2009. Pedro was an Army nurse and deployed with the 31st Combat Support Hospital, Ft. Bliss, Texas to Balad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. He currently works at the VA Healthcare Clinic El Paso, Texas as a primary care registered nurse.
Cheryl Allen served in the U.S. Army as a nurse, then switched to Civil Affairs Officer and finished her career as the Mobilization and Readiness Officer for the 350th Civil Affairs Command. Cheryl deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Desert Storm. She now works at the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Missouri as a nurse practitioner.
Catherine Nadal – U.S. Army Nurse Corps
Catherine Nadal joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in 1991 and is still serving. She deployed to Baghdad, Iraq from 2004-2005 as a medical advisor to the Iraqi Army. Catherine is the Women Veterans Program Manager at VA New York Harbor Healthcare System. Thank you for your service, Catherine!
Thank you to all VA nurses and Veteran nurses for your continued service!
Interested in a nursing career with VA? Visit http://1.usa.gov/1sc19BL