a woman blowing bubbles

Learning how to Advocate with the VA

For our August 30th Muster & Mingle in Tipp City, we were excited to host Brian Johnson, a Patient Advocate from the Dayton VA Medical Center. We enjoyed a dinner of homemade tacos and cake for our Board President Mel Shane’s birthday, along with some great fellowship and conversation.

After everyone had eaten, our Director Valerie Mullikin shared the speech she had given as the keynote speaker for the veterans ceremony at the Miami County Fair. She spoke of her life as a Navy wife, from trying to adjust to a new duty station with young children and an impending conflict in the Middle East to learning how to advocate for a husband who had become disabled due to that same conflict. She shared a story that is familiar to our our regular attendees, of being stuck in traffic on a hot day with her kids fighting in the back seat. She was overwhelmed and struggling to figure out how she was going to just get through the day when she spotted a bottle of bubbles on the passenger seat. She started blowing bubbles through the car and out the sunroof, and like magic the kids stopped fighting and her stress floated out of the car along with the bubbles. She noticed the drivers around her smiling and laughing too, and a spark was lit. She carried bubbles with her everywhere now, and passes them along to veterans whenever she has the opportunity.

After Valerie spoke, Brian took to the ‘stage’. He spoke candidly with the gathered veterans, explaining his role as a Patient Advocate. He works with patients and their doctors, mediating when necessary and working to ensure that all veterans get the same quality of care. He invited everyone present to come and visit him when they were next at the VA, reassuring them that his door was always open. After taking some questions from the crowd, Brian met with some veterans one on one to answer their questions and hear their concerns.

Our Muster & Mingle events are held bi-monthly, once in Piqua and once in Tipp City. For more information on our upcoming events, you can check out our Upcoming Events page here!

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