Atlanta VA Health Care System
Atlanta VA Medical Center remembers commissioner
Leadership and staff at the Atlanta VA Medical Center expressed its condolences over the passing of Georgia Department of Veterans Service commissioner Pete Wheeler who died April 21, 2015 at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.
“Mr. Wheeler was truly a champion for Veterans for over six decades. His history and the history of this medical center are intertwined. It was our great privilege to care for this hero during his final months. His legacy will endure with each Veteran we serve here at the Atlanta VA Medical Center,” said Atlanta VA Medical Center Director Leslie Wiggins.
During his six decades as the leader of the Georgia Department of Veterans Service, Wheeler worked closely with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, including its medical centers and benefits services, and was known by VA staff as a hands-on administrator who devoted his energies to the needs of Georgia’s veterans. When the Dublin VA opened its Milledgeville community clinic in 2012, despite health concerns and limited mobility, Wheeler insisted on attending the grand opening.
A graduate of the University of Georgia and a practicing attorney in Georgia for 50 years, Wheeler was the Georgia Department of Veterans Service commissioner from 1954 until his death and was its only commissioner since the Department’s inception. He served in the U. S. Army infantry between 1942 and 1946 and continued to serve in the Georgia Army National Guard until July 1978 when he retired as a Brigadier General. In addition to serving as the leader of Georgia’s Department of Veterans Service, he served as a member of the U.S. Veterans Advisory Commission, and was appointed as Chairman of the National WW II Memorial Advisory Board by the President of the United States. He actively served in that capacity until the dedication of the memorial in May 2004.
“We join those who mourn the loss of a giant in the Veterans community,” said Secretary Robert McDonald in a statement. “Commissioner Pete Wheeler was a champion for Veterans who served twelve consecutive Governors and advised every Secretary of Veterans Affairs during over 60 years as Georgia Commissioner of Veterans Service He was the Chairman of the World War II Memorial Advisory Board, Georgia Chairman of the National Veterans Day Committee, and past president and active member of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs. On behalf of America's 22 million Veterans, I salute the memory of a steadfast advocate for Veterans of every generation throughout our nation. We at VA extend our deepest personal condolences to the Wheeler family," said McDonald.