Acting Secretary meets with Veteran community, supporters in Memphis


As part of ongoing efforts to review VA facility operations and explore partnership opportunities, Acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke made several stops in Tennessee on Wednesday, June 27.  During a leadership briefing with Memphis VA Medical Center director David Dunning and his staff, O’Rourke said “I am encouraged with the significant improvements you have made here and your commitment to providing our Veterans the care they deserve.”

In the year since Dunning was named director, the facility has undergone leadership changes to both administrative and clinical areas and has had major renovations to areas including the Emergency Room for more efficient and effective services to Memphis-area Veterans.

O’Rourke also visited student Veterans and staff at the University of Memphis to discuss health care and education benefits.

“The University of Memphis is breaking new ground when it comes to serving Veterans,” said O’Rourke. “I want to definitely recognize the efforts of the team here both their work with Veterans from an educational standpoint and just building a community here that we want to support as part of the VA.”

Tennessee Commissioner of Veterans Services Many-Bears Grinder and staff from the Veterans and Military Student Services Center joined the acting secretary in the round table discussion.

During a stop at the Shelby County Veterans Court in Memphis, O’Rourke discussed Veteran suicide challenges and prevention with presiding General Sessions Court Judge Bill Anderson and the critical importance of providing Veterans access to VA services at Veterans treatment courts nationwide.

The acting secretary also toured the Memphis National Cemetery which has the second-largest group of unknowns interred in any national cemetery. It is the final resting place to more than 40,000 Veterans, and interments span 125 years dating back to the Civil War.

While in Memphis, O’Rourke also visited the FedEx headquarters and sat down with FedEx founder, chairman and CEO Fred Smith. FedEx works closely with leading organizations that support Veterans including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program which helps military members and their spouses connect to job opportunities. During the meeting, O’Rourke expressed interest in amplifying partnerships to provide even more valuable services to our nation’s Veterans.


Ashleigh Barry

Ashleigh Barry is a Senior Advisor in the Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships, with a focus on strategic communications and partnerships. She facilitates the implementation of collaborations with industry and foundations to establish novel and impactful programs that improve Veterans lives. She has an extensive background in investigative journalism where her coverage garnered multiple Emmy Awards and the distinctive Edward R. Murrow Award.


  1. Robert (Bob) Phillips    

    My father was a physician and served part of his Army career at Kennedy VA Hospital in Memphis. When the war was over and he became a civilian, his passion to try and heal the soldiers led him to remain at Kennedy until it closed and moved to the current Memphis VA site downtown. I know he would be happy to see there is still a VA hospital in Memphis serving veterans. I appreciate Secretary O’Rourke’s Memphis visit and his efforts.

  2. Victor Cruz    

    Peter O’Rourke is doing a great Job.

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