Women leave mark on history - Atlanta VA Health Care System
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Women leave mark on history

Women leave mark on history

Women leave mark on history

Friday, March 11, 2011

Veterans continue to serve

Women leave mark on history

The Atlanta VAMC employs strong women who made enormous contributions to our nation. That’s not surprising, since America’s military women have always stood among the ranks of freedom’s defenders. From saboteurs on Revolutionary War battlefields to women leading Soldiers in today’s war in Iraq, women have stepped forward to serve and in some cases even die for their country. 

Women have helped define the concept of what it is to be strong. They have contributed to what is known as the best Armed Forces, ever. Servicemembers possess mental, physical and emotional strength. These attributes are not limited by gender.

There are countless women who are less well known, but no less worthy of inclusion in the pantheon of inspiring and strong women.

During Women’s History Month, the medical center staff will salute some of those phenomenal women walking these hallways.


Georgia W. Barkers
Army Nurse Corps 1969 - 1997
Associate Nurse Executive for Education, Nursing/Patient Care Services

“I joined the Nurse Corps initially to help pay for my college education and to serve my country during the Vietnam Conflict. My older brother was sent to Vietnam (101st Airborne) and I wanted to be able to care for others like him. After serving my initial obligation, I realized that I loved the military life and the career opportunities it offered. I continue to serve now in the VA because I have a passion for our mission and those we serve.  I respect the people with whom I have the opportunity to work.  I can proudly say that I am a Veteran, my husband is a Veteran, my oldest son is a Veteran and my youngest son is a pilot in the Air Force (and therefore one day will be a Veteran).  I serve because I cannot think of anything I would rather do with my life.”


Dayanda Haynes
Navy 1989 – 1992
Administrative Assistant, Neurology Department

“I served and continue to serve Veterans because I am a Veteran. I treat Veterans like I want to be treated when I am a patient. It doesn’t bother me to go the extra mile or take a few moments to help a lost or confused Veteran because if the situation were reversed, I would want someone to be helpful and patient with me too.”


Carolyn L. Flowers
Army 1968 - 1971 
Accounting Technician, Mental Health

“I joined the military to gain a better education, travel the world help care for combat/wounded soldiers and to be able to stand proud in saying, ‘I served my country.’”


Jacqueline Ellis-Gibson
Army 1986 - 2006
Patient Service Assistant, Pulmonary Clinic

“I am from a family of Veterans, so there was never a doubt in my mind that I would serve my country. I served because I care about our country and the countries we have supported. I have made friends who I still have contact with, even after 20 years. These friendships cannot be replaced. I am proud to still contribute to my country by working at the Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center.”


Karen Drexler
Air Force 1983 - 1994
Director, Substance Abuse Treatment Program/Mental Health

“I joined the Air Force through the Health Professions Scholarship Program to help pay for medical school.  Once on active duty, I realized the important contribution I could make to our mission readiness by providing compassionate psychiatric care to airmen and their families.  Today, here at the Atlanta VAMC, I am honored to continue to serve those who served our country.”


Antoinette L. Bonton
Army 1981 – 2002
Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist/EEO

“I served because my father was a retired Command Sergeant Major and I was around the military my entire life.   I believed that my father was the best Soldier in the world and I wanted to be just like him.  This prompted me to join and be the very best that I could be in the Army.  The longer I stayed, the more I realized the true love that I have for this country and its way of life.  As a Soldier, I was stationed in many countries. While I can say I’ve loved living in most of them, I can also honestly say there’s no other country I would want to live in the rest of my life except this one.” 


Rosalie Shultz
Army Nurse Corps 1964 - 1967
Case Manager, Mental Health/Henderson Mill Annex

“I have always felt blessed to begin my nursing career in the Army and to work with Soldiers during the Viet Nam War. Now, all these years later, it is as if I have come full circle and will be ending my nursing career working with Soldiers. It has meant a great deal to me to be involved with such special people and to have the opportunity to offer them care and compassion.”

Shultz is celebrating 50 years of nursing service in 2011.


Warlesia Smith
Air Force 1986 - 1991
Diabetic Teleretinal Nurse, Rome Outreach Clinic

 “I initially joined the military for all the “good things” that I heard, i.e. travel, education, meet new people and have fun. I joined during “peace time;” however, the last part of my career was during Desert Storm. I did not participate in combat, but it was during that time that I really learned what it meant to be a Soldier: protect our freedom. I learned many life lessons, like how to be dependable, responsible for and caring of my fellow man. I am very proud to be a Veteran and able to care for those who have served and continue to serve on a daily basis.”


Theresa Sun-Isbell
Air Force Reserve Nurse Corps 1993 - present
Registered Nurse, Critical Care (Surgical Intensive Care Unit)

“Deployment to a combat zone in 2009 was the most professionally and personally rewarding event in my life.  I was able to see and experience first-hand the personal sacrifices our troops make in the service of our country. At the 332nd Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF) where I served in Joint Base Balad Iraq, I prepared my patients for aeromedical evacuation. I used skills gained as a flight and clinical nurse to prepare patients for fixed wing transport within theater or out of a combat zone for further medical care at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Hospital in Germany. As a Veteran myself, I feel increased affinity and fellowship with my patients at the VA hospital. Whether at home or in a combat zone, I feel renewed resolve to be the best nurse I can be.”


Pamela Bartelle 
Army 1981-1984
Medical Support Assistant, Health Administration

“I served to develop my independence.  I was an 18-year-old college student when I decided to join the Army. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I served as both an Administrative Specialist and a Supply Clerk. My experiences helped me grow into the person I am today:  an overcomer, a survivor!”


Sarah V. Myers
Army Reserves 1983 - 1994
Associate Nurse Executive, Nursing/Patient Care Services

“While neither my father or mother served in the military, I grew up in a family where service (especially community service)  was an expectation. In addition, three of my brothers served in the military (31, 20 &10 years respectively). All three of them served in various capacities, one being  a Vietnam Veteran and awarded the Purple Heart. 

My conversations with them ignited my passion to serve and care for a different, but unique population -Veterans. My life experiences have been broadened and enriched because of my military service. I have listened to countless stories from Soldiers on military history and gained unique leadership and management skills, which I have been able to apply to my professional experiences. I am grateful for those military experiences; some assignments have left an impressionable memory with me.

These duties include serving as Assistant Nurse Manager on a Medical/HIV/Aids Unit, Charge Nurse for an Orthopedic Unit and Recovery Room and Orientation/Education Officer for newly recruited Army Nurses. These duties were performed with a 1,000 bed hospital unit, the largest in the United States.


Linda McKnight
Navy 1983 - 1989
Army Reserve 2009 - Present.
Chaplain Resident, Chaplain Services.

“As a Veteran myself, I understand the personal sacrifices required to serve in the Armed Forces in order to guard America's freedom and our way of life. Those who served in combat have made even greater sacrifices, enduring greater hardships, and in many cases, continue to bear the scars of war. There are scars that are seen and those which are unseen except in the minds of warriors who continue to suffer years, even decades, after their service. Our Veterans deserve the best medical care possible, and I am honored to contribute to their care.”


Denise M. Ritchie
Air Force 1977 - 1986
Clinical Pharmacist, Gold and women’s Wellness Team

“Most of my military career I spent caring for servicemembers, and it seems only natural I continue to serve at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.  I believe in our VA medical system.”


Xersalyn Threet
Navy 1992 - 1999
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Social Services

“I enlisted in the military to “see the world.” Now I’ve joined the VA team to serve Veterans by providing them opportunities to receive services that I didn’t know existed before I started working here.”


Claudia Taylor
Air Force 1977-2003
Clinical Nurse Specialist/Psychotherapist,  Mental Health

“It is important to me to reach out and touch the lives of other Veterans, especially female Veterans, to contribute to, and make a difference in their lives. After dedicating one's self to defending one's country, this should certainly warrant receiving the best possible care available after discharged. We owe the very best we have to offer to our Veterans and I am especially committed to increasing recognition of the needs of our female Veterans.”


Sharon McCoy-Adeoye
Army 1983 – 1989
Licensed Practical Nurse, Medical Specialty Care

“I served because of the pride I have in the United States; and, I am proud to be a Veteran.


Janet S. Williams
Army 1974 – 1982
Medical Support Assistant, Surgery

“I enlisted in the Army because I wanted to be all that I could be. I wanted to be a part of an organization whose sole mission was to allow us to continue to live and enjoy the freedom that we enjoy today.

I wanted to make my mother proud; she served 30 years as a civilian working at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC in Charleston, S.C.  She taught me that freedom wasn’t free.

 As a young girl, I met my first Veteran while visiting her at work.  Many were injured during their service to our country.  She taught me that we owed them a debt of gratitude that we could never repay.  She has a great respect for Veterans and has instilled that respect in me.  I wanted to see that same respect in her eyes for me, and I did.  It was a privilege and an honor to serve, and I would do it again.”


LaGaunda C. Jones
Army Nurse Corps 1981 - 2007
Nurse Manager, Medical Specialty Care

“What better service is there than to care for men and women of the Armed Forces? Those men and women either fought in our nation’s wars or prepared continuously to fight, support or sustain the lives of their fellow man. 

My career has spanned from a Lieutenant providing direct patient care, to educating the medics prior to deployment to the theatre of operations.  As a Colonel, I was able to instill a legacy of hope, caring service and patriotism to the next generation of care givers.

Now, I ensure that as a team we provide efficient, innovative, compassionate, heartfelt care to the elite servicemembers receiving care, treatment and services at the Atlanta VAMC.    


Wanda S. Mitchell-Moses   
Air Force 1995 - 2006
Network Contracting Activity-VISN 7

“I wanted be a good example for my family as the first person to attend college, and my guidance counselor in high school suggested the Air Force would pay for college through the Montgomery G.I. Bill.  I learned about the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Alabama State University and received  a two-year scholarship before landing at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia as a 1st Lieutenant to work in contracting.  Now separated from the Air Force, I am very proud to continue to serve my comrades at the Atlanta VAMC by contracting out medical services.

The Air Force prepared me for my career in contracting and I would do it all again.  I made lifelong friendships and we all still remain friends and continue to encourage each other to do our best and to reach back and pull someone else forward.”


Yvette R Robinson
Army Reserve 1983 – 1989
Registered Nurse, Infectious diseases

“I served because it provided the best training as a nurse. I continue to serve because I like caring for people when they’re not feeling their best. It’s not my job! It’s what I do for Veterans.”


Louisa Browning
Army – 1982 - 1990
Inventory Management Specialist, Logistics

“I serve because I can make a great and positive difference. Not just in my life, but in those lives I come in contact with. It is indeed a great pleasure being able to give to someone else and know that I have given from my heart.


Carmen Vazquez
Army 1981 - 2007
Program Support Assistant, Chaplain Service

“I wanted to do something different with my life, travel all over the world, have benefits, get an education, and have a chance to get away from home at an early age.  

I went to the processing station in Puerto Rico as a non-English speaking candidate. After a meeting with an Army counselor, I chose Chaplain Assistant Specialist. God put me in a chapel setting without me realizing what the duties and responsibilities of a Chaplain Assistant were; however, I always felt strongly about helping others and making a positive impact in their lives.  So, it was a wonderful opportunity I received from Uncle Sam. I became bilingual, excelled in a career of 26+ years helping others; furthermore, after retirement, I was hired by the Atlanta VAMC to continue to serve other Veterans with the Chaplain Service.


Tincie Lynch
Army, 1979 - 1994
Veteran Advocate / Life Coach, VISN7

“I joined the Army because I didn’t want to go to college right away.

I felt in the military I could get the training I needed to be successful in life. I served as the President of Future Business Leaders of America. I learned how other people in the world live and soon realized that as Americans we are able to have free enterprise in this country.  It made me proud to be an American. 

I knew one day I would make a difference while serving my country and our Veterans.”


Tessie Wilmot
Navy 1998 - 2005
Medical Support Assistant, Health Administration

“I served while using the opportunity to leave New Orleans and see the world. I enjoyed my military service and the great friendships I’ve made with people from diverse backgrounds and origins. I’ve made my mother proud! I even met the love of my life while serving!”


Margaret Moss Army 1979 - 1985
Medical Support Assistant, Ward Administration

“I trusted a recruiter who said it was the right thing to do; and I’m glad I did. During my tour of duty my mind was strengthened. I became disciplined; a part of a battalion and its mission. Serving my country is a part of my history that I will never forget.”



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