Emory Woodruff Health Sciences Center

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November 7, 2011
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Honoring Emory's Veterans


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."—John F. Kennedy

Veterans Day is observed every year on November 11, but here in Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC), we celebrate and support our nation's veterans every day.

Our faculty and staff have a long history of serving our country, both in wartime and in peace. The proud tradition dates back to World War I when the Emory Unit—a team of physicians, surgeons, dentists, and nurses—reported for active duty to set up field hospitals in war-torn areas. The tradition continued in World War II, when a new generation of Emory health professionals enlisted in the Emory Unit. And it continues today, as faculty and staff WHSC-wide have served and continue to serve in the military.

For example, Assistant Professor of Surgery Dr. Gary Vercruysse has served in Iraq as chief of surgery for the 332nd US Air Force Theater Hospital, treating devastating injuries suffered by soldiers and civilians alike. When asked why he signed on for this work, he says, "It was an opportunity for me to give back. And I had heard that there was a desperate need for trauma surgeons." Dr. Vercruysse's selfless attitude is typical of those who undertake military service, including the many veterans and active duty military currently within WHSC. (See names and in-uniform photos of some of these.)

In addition to celebrating the courage and commitment of our active duty and veteran staff, the Woodruff Health Sciences Center supports veterans in the way we uniquely can—by providing them with the most cutting-edge health care available. After World War II, Atlanta's VA hospital became one of the first in the nation to affiliate with a medical school. Today, some 265 WHSC physicians provide the majority of physician care at the VA Medical Center, and our clinician-scientists have made the facility one of the top VA centers in the nation for research, with funding of more than $29 million directed at solving some of the most serious problems faced by veterans. To our physicians and residents working at the VA, these men and women are more than just patients. In the words of Dr. Wilson Holland, who has collected the wartime memories of more than 1,000 veteran patients, our faculty understand the importance of our veterans' service and "honor the courage and sacrifices they made for our freedom."

A full program of Veterans Day activities is planned for November 10 and 11, including a 5K run, a mixer with local veterans, and an inspirational flag-raising ceremony on the quad. I hope you will be able to participate in some of scheduled events as we express our respect for and gratitude to those courageous colleagues who serve and have served in our nation's military.

Please share your thoughts and feedback at evphafeedback@emory.edu.



S. Wright Caughman, MD
Executive VP for Health Affairs, Emory University
CEO, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
Chairman of the Board, Emory Healthcare

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