One of VA's ongoing missions is to provide a positive health care experience for all Veterans. That mission includes focusing on Veterans' needs, working with health care providers who want to make a difference, and providing a safe healing environment.
Below are some stories from both Veterans and VA health care providers that illustrate the many ways VA is committed to creating a positive health care experience:
Popular Veteran, VA employee, and former volunteer, Walt Mabe
A popular Veteran, VA employee, and former volunteer, Walt Mabe is riding off into the sunset, deciding to retire following recent surgery.
Nearly 48-years ago, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonated underneath then 19 year old Walt Mabe while he fought in the Vietnam War. The injury nearly cost him his life, but after losing much of his right leg on that day in 1967, he didn’t let the injury take his spirit for living life to the fullest. As a VA employee over the past six years, Walt Mabe has helped countless Veterans with everything from braces, to fitting and repairing prosthetics, wheelchairs, strollers, and walkers. His ability to overcome his own challenges time and time again is why he remains so effective with other Disabled Veterans; is respected by co-workers; and admired by his family and so many more.
Like many other young men in the late 1960s, Roberto Gonzalez answered when Uncle Sam called. He was drafted by the Army for service in June of 1969, a week after finishing school. Gonzalez, from South Texas, found himself going to Army basic training instead of working on the family ranch and going to summer graduation parties.
Gonzalez was a member of the 25th Infantry, and on one mission, was selected to be on point during a patrol. What he didn’t know was they were walking into an ambush of North Vietnamese soldiers lying in wait. They sprung up from a trench, firing on the 14-man squad. With Gonzalez on point, he took the brunt of fire, being hit three times: through both lungs, a bullet hitting and shattering his leg below the knee, and the last striking his abdomen, fragmenting and hitting his spine, creating the shrapnel that led to his paralysis.