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A Legacy of Compassion at the Alaska VA Domiciliary

Robyn Claytor, a Social Worker with the Alaska VA Healthcare System Domiciliary on a hike at Barbara Falls, Eagle River, AK.
Robyn Claytor, a Social Worker with the Alaska VA Healthcare System Domiciliary on a hike at Barbara Falls, Eagle River, AK. (Courtesy Photo)

Anchorage, Alaska – March signals the beginning of spring, and brings an opportunity to celebrate Social Work Month to recognize and applaud the dedicated professionals who play a vital role in supporting individuals through various life challenges.

This year, the Alaska VA Healthcare System has even more reason to commemorate the occasion as they bid farewell to a compassionate advocate, a Social Worker who has been the linchpin of care in their Domiciliary.  

Robyn Claytor has assisted thousands of veterans throughout their recovery journeys, and for the last 12 years this remarkable Social Worker has been the silent force behind the scenes, weaving threads of empathy and support into the rehabilitation programs at the Domiciliary. 

With a career defined by unwavering dedication, she has become synonymous with the compassionate care that the facility is known for.

The only other Social Worker assigned full-time to the Domiciliary’s Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program is Michael VanVleet. He is the Admission Coordinator, responsible for welcoming every veteran into their recovery programs. 

“This is my first job with the VA, and since being in the facility I have seen many staff members come and go. She has persevered in a residential environment and has been diligent in her advocacy for veterans and with consistency in care, all while taking on the responsibilities of managing three social work positions by herself.

“Her biggest impact on me has come through the example she has been in resiliency,” VanVleet added, “I will miss Robyn’s genuineness as a person and her knowledge and experiences as a social worker,” but he knows she is excited to start the next chapter in her life, which will start with a hike on the Appalachian Trail from Harper’s Ferry to Springer Mountain. 

As she prepares to step into retirement in April, her colleagues and the veterans she has served are reflecting on the impact of her service. Working tirelessly, she has been the guiding light for individuals navigating the intricate path of rehabilitation. 

“Robyn prepared veterans to have the best chance of never needing our services again,” VanVleet described. In a setting where vulnerability meets resilience, she has been a steady presence, offering not just professional expertise but a genuine human connection that transcends the clinical realm.

The Domiciliary, a place where veterans find solace and support, has been touched by her legacy of compassion. Through the ebbs and flows of rehabilitation programs, she has been the anchor, fostering an environment where individuals feel seen, heard, and understood. Her approach has not only addressed the physical aspects of recovery but has also championed the importance of mental and emotional well-being, a testament to her holistic and person-centered care. 

Claytor reminisced about her time at the Domiciliary, “working at the Dom has inspired and awed me every single day. It has challenged me in every way all the time.

“I have been taught so much by my colleagues, but especially the veterans with whom it has been [both] wonderful and awful to work,” She added.

Clayton clarified the statement, saying, “that is one of the things that makes the Dom unique, and wonderful, and maddening; that it is everything all at once. Those qualities have suited me well. I will miss that because I think the Dom, the employees and the veterans are evidence of an ongoing creation, visible and impactful beyond adequate words.” 

As we celebrate Social Worker Month, let us take a moment to express our gratitude for this exceptional Social Worker who has dedicated her career to the service of others. Her impact is immeasurable, and her legacy of compassion will undoubtedly resonate in the hearts of those she has touched for years to come. 

The Alaska VA Healthcare System is not just bidding farewell to a Social Worker; they are bidding farewell to a beacon of care, leaving behind a legacy that embodies the very essence of Social Worker Month.

If you are a Veteran interested in the Alaska VA Healthcare Domiciliary call (907) 273-4011 or speak to your Patient Aligned Care Team.