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2013 VA Secretary Award Winners

Left to right: Secretary Shinseki, Susan George, Lisa Lang, Teresa Knox, Michael Chapman, Deborah Rovito and Under Secretary Petzel at the Secretary’s nursing excellence award ceremony.


Teresa Knox, NA, VA Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center, Tuscaloosa, AL

Secretary Shinseki, Teresa Knox and  Under Secretary for Health Petzel

Ms. Teresa Knox graduated from Mansfield Senior High School located in Mansfield, Ohio. She went on to attend Ladail Vocational School where she received her Nursing Certification. Upon completion of her certification, she moved to Alabama to begin her career as a care giver at the Aliceville Manor Nursing Home. After 3 1/2 years, she accepted a position at Bryce Hospital; a state psychiatric facility located in Tuscaloosa, AL. As a Mental Health Worker and Recreation Therapy Staff, she provided outstanding care and rehabilitative services to persons diagnosed with disabling mental health conditions. She currently resides in Gordo, AL with her husband Levon of 15 years and two daughters. Ms. Knox continues her career in healthcare by providing care “Second To None “ to the Veterans at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center. She ensures the Residents in the Community Living Centers feel at home. She has received numerous accommodations, awards and specialized trainings due to her exceptional job performance throughout her career.


Lisa Lang, LPN, Orlando VA Medical Center, Orlando, FL

Secretary Shinseki, Lisa Lang and  Under Secretary for Health Petzel

Ms. Lisa Lang, LPN, is truly dedicated to both her family and her career in healthcare. She is the youngest of 10 children and has been married to Randy Lang, her high school sweetheart, for 20 years. Lisa started her healthcare career as a Volunteer at Providence Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in high school, earned her Certified Nursing Assistant Certificate and started working in a nursing home, caring for the elderly for many years.

After moving to Florida, Lisa graduated from the Florida Hospital School of Nursing in 1985 as a LPN, and began working in the Florida Hospital system, with areas of assignments including a Medical/Surgical Inpatient Unit, and in the Urology and Orthopedic Departments. Prior to joining the Orlando VA Medical Center, Lisa also worked in an Internal Medicine office in the private sector for 10 years, where she was honored with recognition as their “Employee of the Year”.

Lisa started working at the Orlando VA Healthcare Center in 2000 (which became the Orlando VA Medical Center in 2006), where she worked in Primary Care for 5 years and became committed to the VA mission, vision, and values, as well as to addressing the care needs of our Veterans. She expanded her knowledge and moved to Specialty Care, working in the Cardiology and Pulmonary Clinics. She transferred from the Orlando VA Medical Center to the Viera VA Outpatient Clinic (OPC) in 2008 and is assigned to the Cardiology Team, assisting with the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Clinic and expanding her skills to include covering for the Neurology, Orthopedics and Podiatry Clinics. She created a secure spreadsheet to follow the more than 1,300 patients in the Viera CPAP Clinic. This spreadsheet aids in providing focused, cohesive and consistent care to the patient with sleep apnea, where before little information had existed. Lisa also works with the Cardiologist to manage all Holter Monitors for the clinic.

Lisa consistently provides the best care to each Veteran, exemplifying the highest standards of the nursing profession. She serves as an important role model to both novice and senior nurses, and her dedication and commitment as a patient advocate who delivers personalized care to each Veteran is always recognized.

Lisa maintains Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Gerontology Certification. These advanced skills allow her to be self-directed in caring for the most complex patients. She takes initiative, follows through with accuracy and has a rewarding positive attitude. Numerous Veterans and staff provide positive feedback regarding her exceptional work ethic, nursing competence, outstanding customer service and teamwork attitude.

In the words of her supervisor: “Ms. Lang is a well-respected professional who never says the words - “that`s not my job.” If she can lend a hand to help, she does in a positive manner. Lisa is a critical thinker, continuously juggling multiple roles. Her patients speak very highly of her as Lisa goes that extra step to make sure all of their needs are met. It does not matter which one you ask, her patients always relate that Lisa makes them feel like they are the most important person in the world when talking with her. They relate that she is genuinely interested in each individual and always has a smile on her face!


Michael G. Chapman, RN, BSN, CMSRN, Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Nashville, TN

Secretary Shinseki, Michael Chapman and Under Secretary for Health Petzel

Michael Chapman is a husband, father, Veteran, and nurse. He has been a registered nurse for fifteen years and a member of the VA team of nurses at the Department of Veterans Affairs Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (VA TVHS) since August of 2008. Mr. Chapman met his wife of twenty years while they were both stationed at Fort Benning, GA. He is the father of two adult sons who are currently serving in the U.S. Army reserves with the youngest just returning from a tour in Afghanistan.

Prior to appointment at VA TVHS, Mr. Chapman served in the U.S. Army as a 31V, Radio Operator and Maintainer, with the 43rd Engineer Company. During his service he deployed to Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm receiving the Southeast Asia service ribbon.

After Leaving the Army, Mr. Chapman used his GI Bill to earn his Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Troy State University and graduated in 1998. He began his nursing career working in a variety of settings in private hospitals to include oncology, cardiac telemetry, medical surgical step down, and Surgical Intensive Care Unit in multiple states to include California, Florida, and Tennessee. He is certified as a Medical Surgical Nurse and received his CMSRN certification in September 2010. Mr. Chapman has specialized in the Intensive care area of nursing since 2005. Mr. Chapman currently works as a staff RN in the MICU where he cares for critically ill Veterans, young and old alike, from all five branches of the military. He finds his prior service helps to connect and understand the needs and unique issues challenging Veterans and their families and this connection and trust allows him to provide the very best care to his patients.

Since coming to VA TVHS, Mr. Chapman has served in a variety of roles to include Acting Nurse Manager of the MICU, Interim Nurse Manager of the Emergency Department, and Assistant Nurse Manager of MICU; all in addition to his duties as bedside staff nurse. He has served on a variety of committees and projects advancing the quality and sophistication of care provided at VA TVHS. Mr. Chapman has served on the Nurse Professional Standards Board; the Bar Code Medication Administration committee, which reviews the processes and practice of medication administration; the ICU task force; and the MICU unit based council. He has also been part of several projects expanding the care provided at VA TVHS using the latest in evidenced based practice and the best technologies on the market. One such project was the development of a Post Cardiac Arrest Therapeutic Hypothermia Protocol. VA TVHS Nashville is a level 1A facility and was required to offer Therapeutic Hypothermia to continue to maintain status in the community. Mr. Chapman researched the latest evidence based techniques, and after extensive research and vendor presentations, an intravascular cooling system was selected which will cool our patients faster and at a more controlled rate than any other system used in the region. He is very proud of his part in the development of this protocol and has high hopes it will save Neurological function and improve the outcome of patients so they may not only survive the event, but come out of it intact and whole.

Mr. Chapman is an activist in his community, promoting access and affordable quality healthcare for all. He has rallied in the street of Washington, D.C., and at home in Nashville, TN, with the belief that healthcare is a right for all Americans and VA TVHS is the model for the nation to follow. Mr. Chapman went onto state he hopes to stay with VA until he retires and will continue to advance his career in a way to promote his talents and allow him to serve and honor the Veterans of the US Armed Forces.


Deborah Rovito, RN, MSN, CRRN, CNS-BC, Cleveland, OH

Secretary Shinseki, Deborah Rovito, and Under Secretary for Health Petzel

Deborah Rovito joined the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in September 2006 as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Spinal Cord Injury Inpatient Unit. She previously worked as a faculty member in the undergraduate nursing program at Ursuline College of Cleveland, where she had classroom and clinical responsibilities that included educating nursing students about the care of adults with chronic illness and rehabilitation needs after Stroke, Spinal Cord Injury, and TBI.

At the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center, Ms. Rovito provides education, clinical training and consultation to nurses in the Inpatient SCI Unit, and the SCI Long Term Care Unit, as well as the eleven spoke sites associated with the Cleveland SCI Center. She provides education and consultation to other SCI team members along with Veterans and their family members throughout the Cleveland SCI Center catchment area.

Ms. Rovito has made presentations on Neurogenic Bowel Management for the Cleveland SCI Center and for national VA Primary Care Team Trainings. She has developed policies and protocols for Louis Stokes SCI Nursing and the Cleveland SCI Service and has been vital in developing processes for the SCI Rehabilitation Program and its interdisciplinary team. Ms. Rovito serves on a variety of Louis Stokes Medical Center and Nursing Committees where she is a persistent advocate for Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury and the nurses who care for them. She was instrumental in the development of the Cleveland SCI Center’s formal patient Education Series and continues to regularly present the class on Neurogenic Bowel Management, and another on Life Care Planning, to Veterans near and far via telehealth.

Ms. Rovito received her Bachelor’s degree in nursing for St. John College of Cleveland and her Master’s degree in nursing from Case Western Reserve University. She is certified by the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) as a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse, and by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (Core). She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, The Association of Rehabilitation Nurses, the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals (ASCIP), and the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS). She has presented posters at ASCIP conferences and most recently presented a poster on Autonomic Dysreflexia Performance Improvement at the NACNS Conference in march 2013. Her areas of interest include patient Education, Neurogenic Bowel and Bladder, and Autonomic Dysreflexia.


Susan George RN, BSN, MPH, NEA-BC, Martinsburg VA Medical Center, Martinsburg, WV

Secretary Shinseki, Susan George, and Under Secretary for Health Petzel

Ms. Susan George was appointed as Associate Director, Patient Care Services, at the Medical Center in Martinsburg, WV in May 2006 and is responsible for ensuring that the standards of care and practice are met by all nursing personnel ; providing organizational and leadership skills to mentor and develop a highly effective workforce to improve system operations; and support strategic planning and performance measure initiatives. She is responsible for the overall coordination and supervision of all nursing staff within the Martinsburg Medical Center and clinics, Education/Learning Resource Service, Nutrition and Food Service (NFS), and Sterile Processing Service (SPS). She in an integral part of the Quadrad and works closely with the Director, Associate Director and Chief of Staff to maintain the highest quality of care for our Veteran patients.

Ms. George completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Pittsburgh, PA. Graduate level studies were completed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the School of Health Related Professions, Department of Health Services, and she received a Master’s Degree in Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management from the University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. She maintains national certification with the American Nurses Association in Advanced Nursing Administration. She completed the Federal Executive Institute. She is a Fellow -level VA Certified Mentor. She has been honored with a Military Order of the Purple Heart Distinguished Service Award. Ms. George is the recipient of the 2011 West Virginia Center for Nursing “Celebrating Nursing Excellence” Award in the “Excellence in Nursing Leadership” category.

She began her VA career in 1974 holding staff nurse positions at the Gainesville VAMC, Gainesville, FL, and the James A. Haley VAMC, Tampa, FL. Her administrative career began in 1982 as the Operating Room Nurse Manager at the James A. Haley VAMC. She continued to assume positions of increased administrative responsibility at the James A. Haley VAMC and in 1992 became the Assistant Chief Nursing Service, Critical Care and Operative Services. In 2001, she relocated to the Richmond VAMC, Richmond, VA as the Associate Chief of Nursing for Surgery/Special Care Areas until her promotion to Associate Director, Patient Care Services in May 2006. In March 2011, Nursing Service at Martinsburg received the American Nurses Credentialing Center Pathway to Excellence ® designation, the first Nursing Service in the VHA and the first healthcare facility in West Virginia to receive this prestigious certification.


Robert H. Beller, FACHE, Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI

Robert H. Beller, FACHE, was appointed Director, Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center (VISN 12), on October 14, 2007, by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He came to the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center from the VA Illiana HCS. Mr. Beller has also served as Acting Director at the Hines VAH, Chicago, IL, from August 2009 – February 2010.

A native of California, Mr. Beller received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1973 from California State University at Fresno, and Masters of Public Administration Degree (emphasis on Health Care Management) in 1979 from Golden Gate University.

Mr. Beller began his career with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Manual Arts Therapist Trainee at the VA Medical Center in Long Beach, CA. His first position was as a Manual Arts Therapist at the VA Medical Center, Hampton, VA. After completing requirements for his Masters Degree, he became Staff Assistant to the Medical Center Director at the VA Medical Center, Canandaigua, NY. Mr. Beller subsequently served as Coordinator for one of three national VA pilot MEDIPRO Programs. Later he assumed the position of Senior Health Systems Specialist at the VA Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH. He completed the Associate Medical Center Director Training Program at Lexington, KY and served as Acting Associate Director at the Cincinnati VAMC. Prior to being appointed Associate Director of Northern Indiana HCS, he served as Associate Director at Colmery O’Neil VA Medical Center in Topeka, KS

Mr. Beller is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is a 1997 graduate of Leadership VA. He was a recipient of the Public Administrator of the Year award from the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration in 1991. He has received the Undersecretary’s Award for Patient Safety in 1998, the Federal Technology Leadership Award in 1996, and the National Performance Review (Hammer Award) in 1996.