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BYH: It Christmas time again. This is the season when all those who beg for free toys for their children come out. What...

Keep veterans front and center

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Jonathan Forte

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

I have had the distinct honor and privilege of leading the Greenville VA Health Care Center as the Administrator and Associate Administrator since November 2016.

Over the past two and a half years, I have enjoyed working all of the veterans and staff members as we grew together, overcame obstacles, learned from our mistakes, responded to the needs of our community and improved access to veteran’s health care throughout eastern North Carolina.

Today, I will begin a new journey outside the Department of Veterans Affairs, returning closer to home with a new mission of providing health care to children and vulnerable adults. While I am excited to take on this new challenge, I leave with a heavy heart because of the positive impact you have all had on me and my career.

The success and quality of the Greenville center and Morehead City Community Based Outpatient Clinic, is not measured by who sits in the administrator’s office and are not mine to claim. It is not measured by a solitary man or woman at the helm. Ultimately, our success is measured by the strength of the team we’ve built and the trust we’ve gained from our veterans, their families and each other. We are stronger together than we are divided.

There is something special about living and working in eastern North Carolina, something special about our VA, our community and its veterans. The continued success of our clinics is vital to the health and well-being of this community. Politicians and others in the Triangle will never understand the real impact and the value of our presence in Morehead City and Greenville. Nor will they understand the value of strengthening partnerships with our greater community, but it is up to each one of us in this community to remind them every day by standing up for eastern North Carolina and our veterans.

Forces beyond our control will continue to reshape the health care landscape here in the east. The VA MISSION Act will continue to evolve and strengthen community partnerships, demanding our best effort to improve access and care coordination for all veterans. While leadership may change, our mission remains the same, to care for America’s Veterans and provide them with the highest quality health care. Our Durham VA Health Care System will continue evolving to meet veterans’ needs for years to come.

The first time I visited Greenville and the VA Health Care Center, I was amazed at how friendly and welcoming our staff and veterans were as I walked around. Now as I prepare to depart, that same sense of community and belonging are making it increasingly difficult to say goodbye and pursue a new dream. Your kindness, camaraderie, professionalism and dedication to our mission will be missed.

But I will always remember this team, this community, and the strength each one of you bring to this team. I appreciate you and want you to know how much of a difference you make in the lives you touch, including mine.

Thank you for allowing me to serve by your side and for welcoming my family and I into the greater Greenville community.

Jonathan P. Forte is the departing administrator at the Greenville VA Health Care Center and Morehead City CBOC.

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