Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Monthly Report from the Director
Scott R. Isaacks, FACHE
Medical Center Director
Pink Out Day - Wear pink to support breast cancer awareness!
Breast Cancer Awareness Month Event
Oct. 23, 12 - 2 p.m.
Charleston VAMC Main Auditorium
More event info.
National Prosthetics Day
Nov. 3, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Charleston VAMC Main Auditorium
Charleston Veterans Day Parade
Nov. 11, 2:30 p.m.
Begins at the corner of Market St. and Concord St. View the full parade route here.
You can also download a printable version of this message.
During the months of September and October, Charleston VAMC sponsors Stand Down Against Veteran Homelessness events held in Savannah, Georgia, and in Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina. The goal of the events is to reach individuals in crisis and connect them with programs and services that will end their homelessness. Our Medical Center strives each day toward our goal of ending Veteran homelessness once and for all through our robust Homeless Program. Last year, the program permanently housed 584 Veterans, an increase of 86 from the previous year.
Recently, I heard the story of one of our current employees, a story that justifies in every way our reasons for continuing to reach out to homeless Veterans in our area—a story of courage and the story of a survivor.
Paul Cornell is a U.S. Marine who refers to himself as a “22-er”—one of the many Veterans who has attempted suicide because of mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, that have plagued him and gone untreated since he left the service. Two years ago Mr. Cornell hit a crossroads. He spent a lot of time asking for help and guidance from God on what to do next, how to get help. So, he got rid of the few possessions he had left, hopped on an Amtrak train in Vermont and headed for Charleston—a place he had never been, but the place he was compelled to come to.
Mr. Cornell ended up at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center with a just backpack and a carry bag. He sat on the benches out front of our medical center for two hours contemplating how and why to come inside for help. He recalls hearing two Charleston VA employees standing close by and talking about him. They recognized the lost look in his eye. The two employees walked over, spoke to him, and, as Mr. Cornell recalls, practically carried him into our Homeless Clinic on the third floor of our hospital.
Within just a few minutes he was in with Dr. Elizabeth Call, our Homeless Clinic physician, and then transported to our VA Community Resource and Referral Center in North Charleston, the very location where we host our Charleston Stand Down event, to get connected with the people and resources who could help. That night he slept at Vet Villas. He found all the services he needed to be safe and housed within the same day he showed up on that bench outside our medical center. Mr. Cornell stayed at Vet Villas for the next seven months while he continued mental health treatment through our outpatient program at the medical center.
Today, he is one of our employees at Charleston VAMC. He started in our Compensated Work Therapy Program and now helps transport patients on a nursing unit, and most importantly, he has his own place to call home.
Our homeless program works tirelessly throughout the year to help Veterans just like Mr. Cornell. Our Stand Down events are a great resource for Veterans in need, but we are here to help Veterans every day—not just at our annual Stand Down. I think our Chief of Mental Health Dr. Hugh Myrick really captured what we’re trying to accomplish for our homeless Veterans when he said, “The end goal would be to no longer have to hold Stand Down events, because all of the Veterans in our area have a place to call home.” And that is truly what we are trying to do every day for these Veterans—help find them a home, setting the foundation for a successful future.
With greatest gratitude and respect,
Scott R. Isaacks