PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It takes a lot of helping hands for the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center to provide veterans the care they need and deserve.
Many of those providing that care are veterans themselves. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller shows us how those working vets are being acknowledged for their service out of uniform.
What was once a blank wall at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center is now filled with the faces of men and women who have two things in common: they all served our country and currently serve their fellow veterans. Although not a veteran himself, John Settepani RN who is an operating room nurse at the VA took stock of what’s billed as the Veterans Serving Veterans wall.
“They did a really nice job,” he said.
Veterans from all five U.S. military branches — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard — are represented on the wall. Among them, is the woman who made this visual tribute a reality — Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center Nurse Recruiter Sandy Dompkosky.
“It took about four or five months to recruit and take pictures and being a veteran myself I really was thrilled to be a part of this project,” she said.
“I’m right here. I’m between Jim and Andy,” said veteran David Finn who pointed out his picture after Tuesday’s unveiling. “I’m proud to be a veteran. I like working with veterans and I like working with people who serve veterans.”
“Well that’s me,” said veteran Jim Davidson who pointed out his photo on the bottom right corner.
He’s an education technician at the VA and likes what the wall helps achieve.
“It just helps to humanize what we do as people here at the VA and other places,” he said.
More than 180 photos are featured on the wall but since nearly 300 veterans work at the VA, a vacant section next to this tribute wall will be used to include others who may now want to be part of it. Veterans represent about 25 percent of the entire workforce at the Wilkes-Barre VA including some who still serve in the reserves or National Guard.
Ms. Dompkosky said, “And with everything going on in the world, they actually could be called to duty any day or any week now and they will go willingly.”
It further makes this wall more than just an acknowledgment of service. It makes it a wall of honor. The Veterans Serving Veterans wall is inspired by a similar wall at the Lebanon VA Medical Center in central Pennsylvania.