Story - Veteran-focused Employees: Living our VA I CARE Values - I CARE Core Values
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Story - Veteran-focused Employees: Living our VA I CARE Values

Veteran-focused Employees: Living our VA I CARE Values, Serving our Nation’s Veterans – Supporting the Mental Health of Veterans

Photo of Emily Ehmke

An Iraq War Veteran wrote praising the quality of care he received from the Mental Health Team at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, and in particular VA nurse, Ms. Emily Ehmke. The Veteran shared his difficulty discussing his past combat experience during a compensation and pension exam for mental health. This led him to seek emergency care and follow-up support from the Veterans Crisis Line. The Veteran stated that Ms. Ehmke made him feel like a friend by remembering the small things, like his passion for hunting, every time he visited and helping him refill prescriptions quickly when he would forget to reorder them.

When his primary psychiatrist was on leave, the Veteran felt comfortable talking to Ms. Ehmke due to the trusting relationship they had developed. She took the time to listen to an issue he was having and assessed that VA could get him to a better place. Ms. Ehmke took the initiative to consult with a doctor on staff, and through her help and encouragement, the Veteran was seen by a different doctor instead of waiting for his primary doctor to return. In his letter, the Veteran stated, “If you knew the anxiety I have about talking about mental issues I am having you would know that this is like trying to move mountains to get me to see a psychiatrist and Nurse Ehmke did it!”

Ms. Ehmke exemplifies that communicating, understanding, and addressing the challenges faced by our Veterans who have both visible and invisible pain helps in their effective treatment, which enhances their recovery. Ms. Ehmke pushed to ensure that this Veteran received timely mental health care, and as a result, changed his outlook on life.

Thank you to Ms. Ehmke for practicing our I CARE values — Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence — and your dedication to help this Veteran.

There are great things like this happening at VA every single day that make a real difference to Veterans. If you have an inspirational story, we would love to hear about it.

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