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Veteran carves special “sign” of thanks for Houston VA cardiologists

A photo of a Veteran with two VA doctors and a photo of a wooden sign.
(Upper left) Dr. Gabriel Habib, Army Veteran Carl Haaland and Dr. Glenn Levine, Chief of Cardiology, pose for a photo at the Houston VA Medical Center. (Bottom) Haaland created and donated this wooden sign to the cardiology clinic to show his gratitude.

Army Veteran Carl Haaland is a grateful man. The Petersburg, Alaska native was visiting family in the Houston area last spring when he started feeling ill.

He walked into the Tomball VA Outpatient clinic for a wellness check and was immediately sent for testing.  Haaland ultimately underwent heart by-pass surgery at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in late March and has been on the road to recovery ever since.

“I wasn’t expecting to have heart surgery anywhere, but I sure was glad the VA was here when I needed them,” Haaland said.  “Back in Alaska, I live more than 1,000 miles from the nearest VA that could have done the surgery…here in Houston the VA was right there to fix me up.”

To show his gratitude to the Houston VA cardiothoracic team that cared for him, while he recuperated from surgery, Haaland, an avid woodworker, borrowed some tools and crafted a beautiful sign that is now prominently displayed in the medical center’s Cardiology Clinic.   The sign features a special Abraham Lincoln quote about caring for Veterans as well as the VA seal.   The Houston VA staff were thrilled  to hang the sign and visit with Haaland earlier this month when he came in for an appointment.

“It is most humbling and gratifying to all of us on the cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery care teams that Mr. Haaland is doing so well,” said Dr. Glenn Levine, Chief of Houston VA’s Cardiology Department.   “We were incredibly touched by the tremendous amount of time and effort he took to craft such a beautiful work for us.”

Haaland will be leaving to go back to his home in Alaska later this summer but the sign in the Houston VA cardiology waiting area will be prominently displayed for years to come.

“I made this sign as a token of thanks to this great group of doctors,” Haaland said.   “I can’t thank them enough for all they have done for me.”

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