Attention A T users. To access the menus on this page please perform the following steps. 1. Please switch auto forms mode to off. 2. Hit enter to expand a main menu option (Health, Benefits, etc). 3. To enter and activate the submenu links, hit the down arrow. You will now be able to tab or arrow up or down through the submenu options to access/activate the submenu links.

Office of Academic Affiliations

Quick Links
Veterans Crisis Line Badge
My healthevet badge

Late Veteran honored in clinic renaming ceremony

SyKaplan clinic

Friends, Disabled American Veterans staff, and VA employees cut the ribbon for a renaming ceremony at the Sy Kaplan VA Clinic in Palm Desert, California, Dec. 8, 2023. Seymour “Sy” Kaplan served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945 and was known for his support of local Veterans. U.S. Dept. of VA photos by Jasmine Brown and Sarah De Boise, VA Loma Linda Healthcare System Visual Information Specialists.

By Cheryl Whitney, public affairs officer for the VHA Office of Academic Affiliations
Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Friends, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) staff and VA employees gathered Dec. 8, 2023, to recognize late local Veteran Seymour “Sy” Kaplan for his impact on the Veteran community at a clinic renaming ceremony in his honor.   

The ceremony renamed VA Loma Linda’s Palm Desert VA Clinic to Sy Kaplan VA Clinic. Kaplan, who served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945 as a combat engineer, received three Battle Stars and two Purple Hearts.

Kaplan continued to serve following his honorable discharge from the military as he supported his local Veteran community through helping Veterans access their earned VA benefits. He was also instrumental in opening the VA clinic in Palm Desert.

Dr. John Byrne, senior advisor for VA’s Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA), served as Kaplan’s physician for over 20 years at VA Loma Linda and attended the ceremony to honor Kaplan.

Byrne reflected on the years of appointments with Kaplan as well as the growth of their relationship. “It was sort of like your favorite uncle or long-time friend dropping in for a visit,” said Byrne. “He had many stories, and as the son of a World War II Veteran, I always listened intently.”

Byrne recalled how Kaplan’s personality synched in perfect harmony with his support for Veterans. “What I remember most about his stories are his humility, his love and deep respect for his country, and his dedication to his fellow soldiers and Veterans,” said Byrne. “That made him a perfect Veteran advocate, as he would let Veterans know what they needed and how they needed to get it done.”

It was while attending Kaplan’s 95th birthday party in 2019 that Byrne began to realize the magnitude of effects Kaplan had on the local Veteran community. “While I knew how hard he worked for Veterans, perhaps I didn’t fully appreciate how loved he was by his friends and fellow DAV volunteers until just before his passing,” said Byrne.

Byrne admires Kaplan for his life-long service and attributes Veterans like Kaplan for being the reason he is proud to work for VA. “After working for VA for 31 years, I have no regrets,” said Byrne. “The fact that, after all [Kaplan] went through and his dedication to Veterans’ well-being, he would trust his own health care to me, is truly humbling. I am very honored and privileged to take care of Veteran patients like Sy Kaplan.”

Though Byrne never served in the military, his experience with Kaplan, along with his other Veteran patients, stressed the importance of VA’s mission to serve Veterans.

Byrne believed renaming the clinic was a perfect gesture for a man so well-deserving. “The clinic dedication is a gesture of love from his friend, who worked tirelessly to get the clinic renamed for Sy. It’s a fitting recognition of a man who gave so much for his country, his fellow soldiers in combat, and Veterans.”

Established over 78 years ago, OAA oversees the mission of training future health professionals for VA and the Nation, which is one of VA’s four statutory missions. Nearly 70% of all U.S. physicians complete training in VA and more than 120,000 health professions trainees in over 60 clinical disciplines train at VA each year as they care for Veterans.


Get Updates

Subscribe to Receive
Email Updates