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Cheyenne VA director conveys respect for Veterans, principles for historic facility

Man in suit jacket and tie in front of U.S. flag
Cheyenne VA director, Paul Roberts, weighs in on the past, present and future of the facility.

Paul Roberts, a U.S. Army Veteran, worked as a medical service corps officer during his 21 years of active duty. In describing that role, he said he supported clinical staff to help run hospitals. Roberts’ military background and experience in hospital administration led him to find his fit at VA.

A native Floridian who’s worked all over the world, Roberts said he always wanted to live out west. Opportunity knocked in 2013, and he accepted an associate director position with Cheyenne VA Medical Center in Wyoming. Two years later, he assumed the responsibility of director, a role he’s held for eight years. 

A compassionate philosophy

Roberts said when he speaks with new staff about Cheyenne VA, he shares where the facility has been, where it is currently, and where it’s going.

“VA health care is one of the last noble missions we have in this country,” Roberts said. “We’re taking care of soldiers, sailors and other servicemembers who have taken care of this country. That’s why we’re here … to care for them in this next phase of their lives. It’s full circle.”

A historic facility

Cheyenne VA opened its doors during the Great Depression.

“This campus has been a mainstay in the community since 1934,” Roberts said. “It’s not just a hospital. It’s a community institution that’s been through all the wars—World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq -- and we’re serving Veterans along the way. That is a proud legacy for Cheyenne.”

Situated on 50 acres in the city’s historic district, the facility sits along Pershing Blvd., a street named after World War I General John J. Pershing. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. 

A distinctive population

Roberts reflected on the Veterans who served at Cheyenne VA. 

“Some of the health care issues are more unique to Veterans than to the patients at private-sector hospitals,” he said. “It’s a special group of people, and because of their service, exposures and experiences, they have a particular need for mental health and social work services. They’ve been through combat, deployments and moving every two years. The military lifestyle is about constantly adapting. It’s a whole different breed of people, and we’re better equipped to take care of that segment.”

Their Veterans agree. “If you ask, they’ll tell you, ‘This is my VA,’” Roberts said. “They want to come here, to their home base. It’s part of their world and community.”

Expanding the reach

Roberts fully supports his team, who regularly drives to rural areas to establish VA contact among untapped people.

Additional community outreach includes education classes covering topics such as MyHealtheVet, the Mission Act and billing.

What the future holds

With no plans for extensive, facility-wide expansion, Roberts said there is patient demand and “the perfect setup” for expanding the Residential Rehab Treatment Program and the Community Living Center.

“We’re a great resource to expand the residential nursing home. We have the best staff-to-patient ratios and good staff who take care of those residents. We do it better than anyone in the community.”

To contact the VA Medical Center in Cheyenne, please call (307) 778-7550.

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April Love is a Writer-Editor on the VISN 19 Creative Task Force. She began working for Denver VA in 2016 and lives in Aurora, Colorado.

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