I wish you could see what I see.
As a contractor working with VA’s National Health Care Recruitment Office, I’ve had the privilege of visiting many VA medical centers around the country. I am a non-veteran, non-VA employee and not in the health care field. In fact, I specialize in employment marketing which is just about as far from the health care field as you can get.
With my team, I travel to different VA hospitals to capture and document authentic, real-life moments between Veteran patients and their health care providers. Publishing this content as a blog, a Public Service Announcement or social post helps shed a light on what it’s really like to work with Veterans in a career with VA. From the security officers in the lobby to the nurses in the OR and the Director of the VAMC, I have never met more dedicated, hard-working and mission-filled people in my entire career.
When my schedule permits, I make it a point to sit in the main lobby or the canteen/cafeteria of the VA hospital I am visiting. Inevitably, I will be joined by a Veteran looking for an open chair to rest for a minute. More than once, I have been surprised by Veterans saying they arrive early to their appointments in order to spend some time with fellow Veterans and feel like they are in a place where people care about their well-being. The tales of how hard it was for them personally to bring themselves to a VA hospital are often disheartening, but every time, they tell me how their lives have improved with the care they are receiving.
This is not just a regional or medical center-specific outlook. I’ve been to VAMCs in Washington, D.C.; Tucson, Arizona; Bay Pines, Florida; Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Atlanta, Georgia; and New Orleans, Louisiana. I always come away knowing the people who dedicate themselves to Veteran care are living out a very important mission in our country—and it shows. The Veterans I’ve seen know their patient care team and feel like family when they’re with them. The health care teams tell me that they’re the lucky ones for having the opportunity to give back to those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.
In D.C., a group of sharply-dressed Veterans caught my eye. They told me they dress up in suits and hats each month to visit with each other at the VA hospital before and after their appointments. In New Orleans, our cab driver was a Veteran and said to me, “See how much they care for us that they built us this wonderful hospital!” At the Women’s Clinic in Houston, women Veterans came up to me one-by-one to tell me how much they loved their clinic and providers. In Tucson, I witnessed a former basketball player walking comfortably with help from his prosthetic team. We all had tears in our eyes that day.
The stories I hear of dedicated nurses, physicians, therapists and psychologists who go above and beyond always inspire me and encourage me whenever I’m lucky enough to spend some time at a VA hospital.
I wish you could see what I see. I wish you would take the time to visit a VA hospital and get to know the caring people who work there. And maybe then, if you’re inspired, you’ll consider a career with VA.