Two VA employees, both serving on active duty with their Army Reserve units, were among those slain at Ft. Hood, Texas, November 5. A third VA health care worker also on reserve duty was seriously wounded.
The tragedy at Fort Hood sent a stunning jolt throughout the Perry Point VA Medical Center and the rest of the VA Maryland Health Care System. Counted among the 13 lives lost during the tragedy at Fort Hood is Lt. Col. Juanita L. Warman, a 55-year-old nurse practitioner who worked at the Perry Point VA Medical Center.
Warman served as a valuable and integral member of the Trauma Recovery Program at the Perry Point VA Medical Center since October 2005. She took great pride in her work serving Veterans as part of the VA Maryland Health Care System's Returning Veterans Outreach Education and Care Program.
"I always thought of Juanita as ageless. She was everyone's best friend because she got along with everybody," said Dr. Christina Watlington, a staff psychologist and team leader for Returning Veterans Services with the VA Maryland Health Care System, who worked daily with Warman at the Perry Point VA Medical Center. "She was a courageous woman who was truly dedicated to helping Veterans."
Warman, who was about to embark on her fourth deployment as part of the Missouri based unit, the 1908th Medical Detachment, Combat Stress Control, was highly respected by her colleagues for her knowledge of the military and the psychological needs of returning combat Veterans. She actively participated in outreach events for returning Veterans and assisted the National Guard with the design and implementation of the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program. Warman considered the military her family, which was demonstrated through her dedication in all of her work, but particularly in her work with newly returning and women Veterans.
"Ms. Warman was a brave American who voluntarily served in the U.S. Army Reserve to protect and defend the freedom and liberties we cherish in this great Nation," said Dennis H. Smith, director of the VA Maryland Health Care System.
She is survived by two daughters and six grandchildren.
Editors update: Colonel Warman was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on November 23, 2009.
Mr. Russell Seager, a VA Nurse Practitioner with the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, was one of the victims of the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas. The Milwaukee center is deeply saddened by his tragic death and their condolences go out to Mr. Seager's family and to the families of the other victims.
Russell Seager was in the Primary Care Mental Health Integration Program. He touched the lives of many returning soldiers and was known for his compassionate care of veterans experiencing depression or PTSD. Many veterans reported they were comfortable talking to Russell and that he helped them relax and share their feelings and tribulations.
Terri Alvarez, a VA nurse who worked with Seager, recalled her friend and colleague. "He wanted to do something with his life, plain and simple. I can't even tell you what a good heart he had," said Alvarez, a U.S. Army 1st lieutenant with the Madison-based 452nd Combat Support Hospital unit.
Justin Lombness was a patient of Seager's for about a year. "Russell Seager was someone you could always call on," he said. "He would stop everything to make time to see you. You couldn't put a price tag on what Russell gave to us. He'd go that extra mile for you."
Trisha Salentine is a nurse practitioner who worked closely with Russell Seager. She noted she referred every veteran she saw who indicated a feeling of depression to Mr. Seager. "He was a great listener. And all the veterans appreciated the fact that he was in the military as an Army reservist. He was a skillful and compassionate person who related very well to veterans of all ages and eras of service."
Russell joined the VA Medical Center in 2008 and was a member of the US Army 330th Medical Brigade. Russell's fellow employees had a deep, personal connection with him and respected his work.
He was known as a skilled and compassionate caregiver with a wonderful sense of humor, a private person whose only concern was reaching the veterans with whom he worked. He was also an instructor at Bryant and Stratton College.
Russell Seager was 51 and is survived by his wife and a son.
Dorothy Carskadon - Wounded
Dorothy Carskadon, 47, a captain in the reserves and a social worker and team leader at the VA Vet Center in Madison, Wis., was wounded in the gunfire that brought Ft. Hood activities to a halt. She is currently in stable condition in the intensive care unit at the Darnall Army Medical Center at Ft. Hood.
As a VA team leader, Carskadon oversees other social workers in providing individual and group counseling for combat Veterans experiencing difficulty readjusting to the civilian community following military service. As a new Army officer, Carskadon was preparing for her first deployment.
On an average day, more than 850 VA employees don uniforms to serve military commitments in Reserve and National Guard units across the country and overseas.
By Hans Petersen, VA Staff Writer