VA Clinic Gets A New Name

A big change made to a Lufkin clinic was the focus of a big ceremony Thursday.

The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center is now the Charles Wilson VA Outpatient Clinic. The facility was renamed after a Navy veteran and native East Texan who also served in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than two decades.

Charles Wilson was born in Trinity. He recently retired and moved back to the Pineywoods, and that made Thursday's honor even more special.

Wilson said, "It's wonderful to be home. It's wonderful to be back among East Texans and I'm [going to] spend the rest of my days here."

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison led the effort to get the clinic renamed.

"I wanted to make sure that our veterans had the name of a true veteran - someone who cared for them and who served our country - and that was Charlie Wilson," said Hutchison.

Thousands of East Texas veterans depend on the Charles Wilson VA Outpatient Clinic for medical care, treatment, and support. The clinic is not only convenient because it's just for veterans, but also because it's close to home.

World War II vet, Jack Byers, said, "We are blessed beyond my words to describe having the VA clinic here in Lufkin. I don't know what I would do if we didn't have this clinic. I'd be in terrible shape."

Dana Vanya served in Desert Storm during her time in the U.S. Navy. She's been going to the clinic since 1991 because it offers programs and services geared toward women veterans - something that's needed, but hard to find.

"They have a facility here where they don't have to go to two or three doctors," Vanya said. "We have a facility here that takes care of all your X-rays, your pharmacy, your lab, your physicals; you're assigned to one doctor."

Byers gets to relive his days in combat through group therapy. He knows keeping that connection with other vets is good for the mind and spirit.

"To hear other veterans having the same problems that I'm having helps my feelings, that I'm not alone in this," Byers said.

Compassion, companionship, and committment - just a few things veterans can count on at the VA clinic. The facility may have a new name, but its dedication to our nation's heroes remains the same.