VA and Aunt René team up to care for Air Force Veteran

Native American Veteran was close to giving up


shadow

It is rare to meet a person who truly resembles not just a hero, but also a warrior in mind, body and spirit.

Carla Sabrina Rose Locklear is a proud Native American Air Force Veteran who served as a medic in Texas from 1997 to 2002.

“I had friends ask me why I would serve this government that had done damage to my people. I would respond with, ‘My ancestors have always protected this land… and we always will.’”

While in the military, Locklear was diagnosed with an extremely rare immunodeficiency disorder called hypogammaglobulinemia.

Her symptoms and ailments became worse and she had to be hospitalized more frequently. It was hard for her to accept that she needed a steady caregiver and support system.

Hard to reach out to ask for help

“Being a Veteran, you tend to just suck it up and push through stuff. It was hard for me to reach out to ask for help. I didn’t tell my family what was going on.”

Locklear was barely hanging on and already making end-of-life plans when word reached her aunt and uncle in Bluemont, Va. Her aunt, Air Force Veteran René White, formed a plan.

“I get my care from the Stephens City Community Based Outpatient Clinic. I wondered if the Martinsburg VA Medical Center would have the services Carla needed to get well.”

Native American Air Force Veteran Carla Sabrina Rose Locklear.

Aunt Rene found a hospital with “all the things I need”

“I couldn’t believe it. She found a VA hospital in West Virginia, 30 minutes from her home. They have all the things I need and they would help me,” said Locklear. “It blew my mind because here I was, picking out the colors of my coffin.”

Aunt René assumed the role of caregiver and advocated for her patient and loved one. Locklear felt hope and that things could go a different way.

Locklear left everything and moved to Virginia to find healing. She showed up to Aunt René’s house with nothing but her wheelchair and a backpack. Even though she didn’t arrive with any physical baggage, the emotional baggage was overwhelming. She is pictured above with her Aunt René and Uncle Chris.

Her vision: “To be on a healing mountain”

Together, they used a unique storyboard approach to prioritize what had to be decided immediately and what could wait. This process also led Locklear to find her personal vision statement: “To be on a healing journey, on a healing mountain and search for a cure.”

Once she spoke those words aloud, it changed the energy in her entire body and her new perspective became about healing and living.

“It really resonated because I was in this desert in Texas where nothing was growing or thriving in my life. I came to this mountain that was alive. It was alive with hope and it gave me hope.”

Locklear immediately started visiting the Martinsburg VAMC and Stephens City CBOC for treatment. Staff there adjusted her infusion cycle so she would get antibodies more frequently.

“The whole team was fantastic, from the moment we step off the elevator. The admin team even sings my name every time they see me walking down the hall. It just turns my whole energy around so I can accept the treatment and the healing.”

Locklear is a warrior in mind, body and spirit and the Martinsburg VAMC is proud to be a part of her tribe.


Lauren Winebrenner is a public affairs specialist at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Michelle    

    Funny the VA would put out this story when it only emphasizes the flaws in the VA healthcare system. She should have been able to get good care ANYWHERE in the US. But in much of the country, the story is the same. I am 100% P&T rated for something the VA actually caused but they can’t/won’t treat me for–because the meds I need are not on VA formulary. Or the VA has different rules to get the meds that don’t actually apply to me. I once even has them deny me nebulized Albuterol, because they stated “The FDA has not approved this medication for treatment of asthma…” I bucked that one up the chain of command pretty fast, but TBH, if I didn’t have amazing healthcare coverage through my spouse’s job, I’d be dead.

  2. Gregory Peel    

    I was in the Air Force for almost 18 years. I have had 4 back surgeries and was on medication that gave me a better quality of life and was able to function normally. Now that the CDC came out with a guideline I cannot get my medicine no more. I am now in Texas visiting my daughter but cannot walk cause of the pain. I applaud Veterans who can get the care they need but probably won’t post this to those who cannot function no more without medicine. I even saw my old Doctor at Mpls VA and did not even get the help I needed. Now my daughter has to see me suffer in pain. I cannot walk and before this I did not even need a cane. Thank you for not helping one of your Veterans.

  3. S W    

    This is great. It sounds like she is definitely making a come back. She is one brave Airman with a truly strong survival instinct. It’s too bad more of the V.A. hospitals and clinics don’t have this very positive way of helping our veterans. I’ve heard from veterans from Maine to Texas who feel that their V.A. doesn’t care and doesn’t give them quality care.
    We should all applaud the Martinsburg V.A. Medical Center and this special veteran for their accomplishments.

  4. Susan    

    How wonderful that she was able to get help—I also have a rare immune deficiency problem—just going thru all the test for the official diagnosis and the last one got canceled till 14 MAY so it will be awhile—at least I have meds that are helping some—hope she continues to get the help she needs to live a pain free life

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve : *
10 × 14 =