Bay Pines VA Healthcare System has spent the last nine months raising awareness of women Veterans as part of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ year-long celebration of 100 years of health care to women.
On Thursday, Sept. 14, they dedicated the first of the organization’s nine-planned Women Veteran Wall displays at C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center. The wall is adjacent to pharmacy in Bldg. 100, and beginning next week, Veterans displays will be unveiled at the Lee County Healthcare Center and the healthcare system’s seven VA Clinics.
“In our 90th year, we are honoring a legacy of service, and we cannot think of a better way to reflect that message than the establishment of a Women Veteran Wall during VA’s centennial celebration of service to women Veterans,” said Bay Pines VA Director/CEO Paul M. Russo.
The four-foot by six-foot maple spectrum display spotlights six photo frames and a frosted acrylic panel collage of key words and phrases from women Veterans. As part of the display, each Veteran is featured with her branch of service, rank, photo, and a bio detailing her service, deployments, accomplishments, and where she currently serves Veterans across the healthcare system.
The inaugural class of honorees were selected among women Veterans who serve as nurses across Bay Pines VA Healthcare System. The fall 2023 class comprises the following women Veterans:
- Kathleen Boykin, former corporal, U.S. Marine Corps,
- Lourdes Cruz, major, U.S. Air Force, retired,
- Shelley Eversole, lieutenant colonel, U.S. Air Force, retired,
- Priscilla Head, former captain, U.S. Army,
- Melissa McAfee, former petty officer third class, U.S. Navy, and
- Lynn McKinney-Wilson, major, U.S. Army, retired.
“Leadership chose the nursing service as the spotlight for the inaugural class because throughout history, whether it be on the battlefield or as part of Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, nurses have been the foundation for the timely and effective delivery of quality health care,” added Bay Pines VA Associate Director for Patient Care Services Carrie Hawkins. “These six women remain dedicated to serving fellow Veterans and embody the VA’s Core Values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.”
Bay Pines VA leadership announced plans to update the wall every six months, with the next class of honorees slotted for March, as part of Women’s History Month.
Additionally, each honoree class will have a universal connection. While the inaugural class highlights women Veterans who are nurses at Bay Pines VA, the spring class will feature women Veterans who are not employees.
Details on the spring focus for the second class of women Veteran honorees is planned for December 2023.
Nearly 11,000 women Veterans are registered as part of the Bay Pines VA Women Veteran Program. Women who are interested in nominating themselves or other women Veterans for consideration can reach out to the Bay Pines VA Women Veteran Program.