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White River Junction VA Medical Center, Vermont


Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs visit

SECVA, R. Wilkie greets staff at WRJ VAMC

Robert Wilkie, Secretary of the Veterans Affairs greets the Environmental Management Staff during his visit at WRJ VAMC

By Lynne Davis, Public Affairs Specialist
Friday, April 19, 2019

As the staff at White River Junction VA Medical Center was closing out the work week and happily looking forward to starting the weekend, they received a special visit from the Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

As part of a tri-state tour, Secretary Wilkie began at the VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Togus, ME and traveled on to spend several hours in White River Junction, VT before heading to Manchester, NH.

Anyone nervous about meeting such a distinguished guest was quickly put at ease. Secretary Wilkie’s affable manner, wit, and genuine interest in both the employee and Veteran experience was evident. SECVA tours inpatient ward

Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs tours the WRJ VAMC inpatient wards with Johanna Walker, RN, Nurse Manager.

There were no gaps in the Secretary’s schedule while on site. The day began with a working breakfast where he met with the local AFGE President and White River Junction VAMC staff. He made a point to tour the inpatient units where he visited with both staff and Veteran patients whom he presented with challenge coins. After trading some military stories and shared conversation, Secretary Wilkie continued the tour with Johannah Walker RN, Nurse Manager where he listened attentively about the work the staff is doing. He viewed the nursing project board where the team shares who they are, their mission, current projects, and celebrations. Johannah highlighted some recent renovations that offers Veteran patients more privacy and dignity during their stay. SECVA R. Wilkie speaks with staff

Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Ryan Lilly, VISN 1 Network Director welcome Dr. Rusch as WRJ VAMC's new Medical Center Director.

An employee town hall filled to maximum capacity was last on his White River Junction VAMC excursion. He addressed various topics such as the Mission Act, budget, and the great work the staff was accomplishing.  He presented several employees with awards and challenge coins.

He would conclude with a highly anticipated announcement for White River Junction VAMC staff. After being without a permanent Director for approximately two years, VAMC employees welcomed Dr. Brett Rusch as the new Medical Center Director.  Ryan Lilly, VISN 1 Network Director along with Secretary Wilkie congratulated Dr. Rusch saying he “brings leadership and proven experience to Vermont and New Hampshire Veterans.” 

With Fridays already being a fan favorite, today was even more so for this rural community. Secretary Wilkie’s visit was a great way to close out the week.


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