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Team of Angels

Tony Davis' military service
Tony Davis, U.S Army Veteran, gets health care from his 'team of angels' at VA Northern Indiana.

Tony Davis joined the United States Army in 1967 as an Advanced Medical Specialist during the Vietnam War.

 Davis decided to join the service to make a difference, instead of being drafted, he willingly joined to have some control of his future.

“I wanted to make a difference and I thought that difference would be for me to become a medic,” said Davis.

Davis served as a Clinical Specialist and an Occupational Therapy Specialist at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Valley Forge General Hospital in Phoenixville Pennsylvania, and demilitarized zone of Korea, where he worked in the emergency room, and assisting, mass casualties.  He also trained the Korean Army attached to U.S Army (KATUSA’s) for emergency medical services in country and those who were sent to Vietnam.

Davis honorably separated from the U.S. Army in 1970 to purse his career in academics. In 1974, Davis graduated the College of St Joseph with a bachelor’s degree of Liberal Studies with emphasis in Psychology, he also obtained a master’s degree in Educational Psychology and School Counseling.

“I got into academics, counseling and education, and that became my life’s passion.” 

Davis spent his life dedicated to education and human services, holding multiple positions with multiple universities including, 20 years with the University of Saint Francis located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Davis retired after 40 years of working in education and human services. 

In 2016, Davis was diagnosed with cancer and through his academic connections, he was given an opportunity to participate in an 18-month clinical trial with Bristol Myers’s Squibb in Tucson, Arizona.

“Up to this point in my life, I had never used the Veteran benefits, but I walked into the office of Veterans services to inquire about what I might be eligible for in terms of burial benefits. I encountered a terrific young man who got me started with health care, disability benefits, and much more,”

Davis was then transferred back home, and he started receiving care at VA Northern Indiana Heath Care System.

In 2023, Davis was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson's disease is an advanced disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves.

“I was formally diagnosed by the VA on Valentine’s Day 2023, but we have known since late 2021.”

After some in-depth discussion with his healthcare team, together they decided that Davis would not only qualify but benefit from Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) Program.

HBPC delivers quality primary health care to eligible Veterans with complex co-morbid chronic diseases. HBPC staff make visits to Veteran’s home to meet their primary care needs.

HBPC uses a comprehensive team approach. The team consist of a primary care provider, registered nurse, registered dietitian, licensed clinical social worker, rehabilitation therapist, clinical pharmacist, and psychologist.

"It has always been an honor to work with our veterans, but to work with them in the comfort of their homes, to get to know them and their families on a regular basis, is so much more fulfilling! We have the privilege of assisting them to meet their goals, to stay healthy and safe in their own homes for as long as possible,” said Jo Barkley, HBPC Registered Nurse Case Manager.

Davis refers to his team as his angels. With the support of his wife Sally and the HBPC team, Davis has hit a golf ball for the first time in 11 years. He has also started painting, drawing, gardening, and making videos for his friends and family.

The HBPC team visits Davis on frequent basis. The team works together with the primary focus of assisting Davis with his specific needs to remain independent and safe while living at home.

“My dietitian comes to see me every six months. I follow her diet plans and I have been able to gain weight and muscle. I went from 146 pounds to 152 pounds with the help of her plan. My occupational therapist (OT) has also been a key part of my growth,” said Davis.

Davis and his OT have been working hard with weights and exercises to build muscle. Together they attend Performance Golf and the gym to track his golf swing progress.

“I’m ecstatic. I have been diagnosed with Parkinson and I’m going to play golf this summer, we are going to do this.”

Davis is also frequented by a social worker. The HBPC social workers assists Veterans with their social, financial, and emotional support needs.

“My social worker is incredible, she assists me with important after-life decisions, but also gives ideas and support to have a great life before you get to that. There is nothing I couldn’t tell her.”

Davis describes HBPC as spokes of a wheel that all work together with the Veteran being in the middle.

“If you’re going to buy into the program buy into the whole thing, you need all the spokes to help you live your highest quality of life.”

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