VA committee member visits Veterans in Dallas - VA North Texas Health Care System
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VA committee member visits Veterans in Dallas

Brig. Gen. Tom Daniels met with Veterans in a waiting area at Dallas VA Medical Center.

Brig. Gen. Tom Daniels met with Veterans in a waiting area at Dallas VA Medical Center.

By Erikka D. Neroes
Thursday, April 18, 2013

He's spontaneous and easy-going. His positive attitude and candid personality make him approachable and people enjoy his company. "He's the type of person that walks into a room and people take notice," said VA North Texas Health Care System Associate Director Pete Dancy, who escorted retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Tom Daniels during his visit. "It's not because of the uniform and all the medals, but behind all that, he's down to earth," Dancy said.

As a service-connected disabled Veteran, Daniels can relate to Veterans and why some of them get frustrated.

"Sometimes you're at the facility for a while, but VA coordinates care which makes it convenient for Veterans," Daniels said. "We have to be patient and know VA is doing everything possible to make sure Veterans needs are met."

Daniels is service-connected for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and medical issues as a result of his service as the on-scene commander for rescue and recovery after the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. He is also a survivor of a double lung transplant he needed and received after his service in Oklahoma City.

Having been diagnosed while on active duty, Daniels said he had to ignore the possibility of being labeled. As a high level official, he said it was hard, but he knew he needed help and that was more important. "There's a stigma with being diagnosed with PTSD, but I strongly encourage those who need it to get help from VA," Daniels said.

Daniels is a patient at VA North Texas Health Care System. He receives care at Fort Worth VA Outpatient Clinic. He said he enjoys talking with Veterans whenever he's at the clinic. During his visits, he's always sure to do two things: listen to Veterans tell their stories and ensure Veterans that VA has them covered.

As a member of the VA Secretary's Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans, Daniels gets a broader view of VA's mission.

"VA is a fine organization with dedicated employees who are committed to the mission and they really do care," Daniels said. "From the outside looking in, it's easy to assume otherwise."

When Daniels was appointed, he knew he had a big job to do. The committee is responsible for advising VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki regarding the needs of minority Veterans with respect to compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach and other benefits and programs administered by VA. Daniels considers it a pleasure and privilege to serve on behalf of fellow Veterans.

While on the committee, Daniels hopes to offer insight and guidance that will benefit Veterans long after his two-year term. As far as meeting with Veterans and offering encouragement whenever he has the opportunity, he said that’s something he'll never stop doing.

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