VA North Texas Health Care System
Dallas Marine continues first-in tradition
The United States Marine Corps has long prided itself in being America’s 9-1-1 force—first-in to the fight. Gilberto Hernandez still lives by this mantra despite last having worn the uniform of his beloved Corps in 1980. Hernandez was the very first patient admitted to Dallas VA’s newly renovated medical, surgical and oncology unit on May 16.
The 12-bed inpatient unit combines the latest technological interventions with a serene patient-centered environment for Veteran healthcare and treatment. The upgrades include private rooms with hotel like furnishings, flat screen TVs, recliner chairs, private lockers, noise meters, tele-monitoring and a new bed management system.
The new amenities are just fine by Hernandez who spent eight years as a 0311-Infantry Rifleman—amphibious warriors who bring freedoms in the chaotic nature of crisis and conflict.
“I’ve always been grateful for VA and although I would rather be heading to California to see my grandson’s college graduation, my stay here has been really good,” said Hernandez. “I’ve been around this facility for almost 50 years so I know I’d be taken care of.”
Born and raised in Dallas, Hernandez first roamed the halls of Dallas VA as a volunteer high school student in the late 1960’s as part of a youth program. Hernandez left Texas in 1972 to join the Marines where his journey took him to Okinawa, Cambodia, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan and throughout the Pacific area of operations. Service and sacrifice are part of the Hernandez heritage--a son followed him into the Marines and spent a career flying helicopters, ultimately retiring as a major. Hernandez’s other son is currently a lieutenant in the Army National Guard and a brother spent 28 years serving the Nation in the United States Air Force.
Hernandez’s prognosis is very good that he’ll soon relinquish his brand new hospital bed to another Veteran in need—his mission as first-in has ended. He’ll soon begin the slightly delayed trip to his grandson’s graduation--and this is great news because Hernandez wouldn’t miss seeing his family for anything. Semper fidelis, or always faithful—two words first uttered in 1972 that made their home in his heart and soul and never left.