On June 6 the Salem Women’s Health Clinic officially became the MSG Silverine Vinyard James Women’s Health Clinic, with the woman for whom it was named in attendance.
James, who was born in Vinton, Virginia and joined the US Army in 1949, has been a patient with the clinic since its founding, and a patient with the Salem VA Healthcare System for more than four decades.
During the brief ceremony to mark the naming, Congressman Ben Cline (Virginia 6) spoke to James’ legacy as a pioneer in civil rights, having joined the Army during a time of racial segregation and being part of the movement toward full integration. Also speaking were Dr. Miguel LaPuz, Assistant Undersecretary for Health for Integrated Veteran Care at the Veterans Health Administration, and letters from Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, were read, adding their congratulations on James’ long record of service to the nation.
By the time James retired from the Army, she had served more than 22 years on active duty and attained the rank of Master Sergeant (E-8), often serving as the highest-ranking enlisted woman, in fully integrated Army units.
“The record of MSG James and her contributions to the military, being one of the first female veterans to rise to an E-8 rank, is impressive and is worthy of our admiration and recognition,” said Rebecca Stackhouse, Salem VA HCS Executive Director. “I am extremely grateful we were able to share this moment with MSG James and her family, and I hope that her story, and her indomitable spirit will inspire everyone who walks past these doors for generations to come.”
Today James proudly displays her five honorable discharges and a certificate of retirement from the Army at her home, while her name and likeness, to include the uniform she retired in, and the boots she was given when she joined the Army, are displayed on the wall outside the Silverine Vinyard James Women’s Health Clinic.