Caucus History


1961 The PA concept is born. Dr. Charles Hudson publishes an article “Expansion of Medical Professional Services with Nonprofessional Personnel” in the June 10, 1961, issue of the Journal of The American Medical Association. He states that “experience with corpsmen in the Army and Navy has shown that laymen with relatively little training can be very efficient assistants.”

1965 The first PA educational program begins at Duke University with four ex-Navy corpsmen, Don Guffey, Vie Germino, Dick Scheele and Ken Ferrell. This program Included 140 hours of nursing Instruction, 60 hours of anatomy and physiology, 60 hours of pharmacology, 100 hours of animal surgery, and 90 hours of electronics theory. Similar programs began during the next eight years at many medical institutions and universities.

1969 The first MEDEX program is started by Dr. Richard Smith, at the University of Washington in Seattle. Fifteen former Army and Navy corpsmen are selected on the basis of past medical performance to undergo three months of intensive training at the University of Washington School of Medicine, following this training these MEDEX will spend 12 months on the job with family practice physicians.

1979 The first official group discussion among military veteran’s about their experiences as medics and corpsmen occurs at the Annual PA conference in Hollywood, Florida. Small groups of active duty and veteran PAs discuss veterans needs. Veteran PAs begin to form mutual groups of support and informal networks develop.

1979-1981 Physician Assistants play an active role in counseling other veterans within the Veterans Administrations Vet Center’s projects on the east and west coast. One of these programs entitled in the “Back in the World” therapy group, sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Is developed and co-directed by a Physician Assistant. PA's participate in the first Vietnam Veteran study entitled “The Forgotten Warrior Study” funded by the Disabled American Veterans, the project director Is Dr. John Wilson at Cleveland State University. Informal meeting of Vietnam Veterans is held at the Hollywood, Florida American Academy of Physician Assistants national conference.

1980 Physician Assistant Vietnam Veterans informally meet again at the annual AAPA conference in New Orleans. Discussion centers on the Vietnam Veteran Memorial being planned for Washington, D.C. and the DAV memorial in New Mexico.

1981 The founder of the American Academy of Physician Assistant’s Veterans Caucus breaks ground along with 200 other Vietnam veterans for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Informal meeting of Vietnam veterans held at the annual conference in San Diego.

1982 First official reception held at the annual AAPA conference at the Washington Hilton on Memorial Day. A highlight of this first meeting was the signing of the original “God Loves the Grunt” canvas by George Skypeck, Jr. The Veterans Caucus presents awards honoring Army Warrant Officer Phil Clarkson, President of the Society of Army Physician Assistants, and Jerry Wise, former Navy corpsmen. Ken Harbert, Alan Sams, and others attend official dedication of Vietnam Veterans Memorial and march in the first of many “Welcome Home - Vietnam Veterans Parades” in Washington, D.C. After a strong show of support in the AAPA’s House of Delegates, the American Academy of Physician Assistants support the Vietnam Veteran Memorial with a donation honoring all the PAs that served in the Vietnam War as medics and corpsmen.

1983 A Memorial Day reception and slide show is provided for Vietnam Veterans Physician Assistants. Physician Assistant requests that this reception continue on an annual basis. The Veterans Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants is officially given birth. An art show of George Skypeck’s combat art is displayed. In July of 1982, Mr. Steve Tiger is presented with a special framed print of “Soldiers” by George Skypeck. As outgoing editor of the Physician Assistant magazine, Mr. Tiger was responsible for honoring veteran PAs by featuring “God Loves the Grunt” on the cover of Physician Assistant magazine. At this same conference in St. Louis, Missouri, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Educational Research Foundation (ERF) commissions renown artist captain George Skypeck, USA, (ret) to produce 1325 limited edition, numbered prints, entitled “God Loves the Grunt.” It shows up at the White House, the Senate, the Halls of Congress, and the walls of the Pentagon, VAMC lobbies, and even over the administrator’s desk in the VAMC central office. Harry Walters, Representative John Murtha, Bob Hope, and Tom Selleck, are presented with prints that later show up on TV shows, including “Simon & Simon,” and “NYPD.” Vet Centers across the country use the print to capture the hearts and minds of their clients. Military units display them in their planning and staging centers. Ten years later the stars of “China Beach” hold an auction with these prints to support the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project.

1984 The front page of the Rocky Mountain News highlights the Caucus Memorial Service. Vietnam veteran John Coit states “once they were medics and corpsmen and once upon that time they were life itself.” The meeting held at the Brown Palace in Denver, Colorado opened up with ex-Navy corpsman Richard Currey PA-C reading a poem from his Pulitzer winning poetry book “Crossing Over,” a collection of poems from his days as a Navy corpsmen with the Marines in Vietnam. Capt. George Skypeck USA (Ret), spoke about the living canvas “God Loves the Grunt,” and the 5,000 Vietnam veterans that have signed this print that stands the test of time focusing on the bonds of friendships made for life. Ex-army medic, Richard Rocco PA-C, Medal of Honor recipient, was honored for his work with veterans. Dr. Tom Williams, author and two tour Marine Vietnam veteran was honored for his work regarding the counseling and readjustment support given to Vietnam veterans. Bruce Nitsche, service officer, Disabled American Veterans was also honored and presented with a “God Loves the Grunt.”

1985 The first newsletter of the Veterans Caucus is published on Veteran’s Day, and sent out to over three hundred PA members across the nation. The annual PA conference is held In San Antonio, Texas where a Veterans reception is held on Memorial Day. PENNWALT corporations vice president Howard Campbell ( a former Navy corpsmen) presents the PENNWALT special awards to the following honored guests: Harry Walters, administrator for the Veterans Administration, Gerald McRaney actor and star of “Simon and Simon,” Fred Downs, Jr. actor, writer, and director of prosthetic aids for the Veterans Administration and Diane Carlson Evans who discussed her proposal for a statue of a nurse to be placed near the Vietnam Memorial In Washington, D.C. honoring the women who served and cared for the wounded in Vietnam. She got a special surprise when an army medic she served with in the 36th Evacuation Hospital turned out to be a PA in our audience. Gerald McRaney was assisted by the Veteran Caucus in developing an episode for “Simon & Simon” entitled “I Thought the War Was Over.” Veteran PAs who made significant contributions to their communities, country, and profession were honored including: Ron Butlin, Bruce Fichandler, Mike Erkel, James Hili, Greg Melling, W. E. Schofled, Tim Donnelly and Frank Hollister. A plaque was presented to the national office of the AAPA in honor of their accomplishments.

1986 On Memorial Day the Veterans Caucus hosts a unique program to honor “Lifesavers Then, Caregivers Now.” This theme becomes the motto for the Veterans Caucus. Our history and our future relates back to our heritage as medics and corpsmen. The PENNWALT Corporation establishes the Military and Civilian PA of the year awards, for the Veterans Caucus. These awards honor a civilian and military PA that represents the highest standard of commitment to their profession, their patients, and their country. We honor special guests at a service in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Boston Hotel including, Kirk Bauer, Executive Director of the National Handicapped Sports and Recreation Association, Maurice Gordon, Commandant of the Massachusetts Soldier Home in Chelsea, Rep. Thomas Vallely, Ret. Marine Josh Cruz ,star of the Broadway play “Tracers”, Col. Robert Rheault, USA (Ret) director of the Outward Bound program in Maine and former commanding officer of the Special Forces in Vietnam, and Capt. George L. Skypeck, USA (Ret).

1987 Iranian hostage CWO Donald Hoffman begins his career as a PA in the Army working in Orthopedics. The AAPA conference was in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Veterans Caucus sponsored an unveiling and dedication of George Skypeck’s artistic tribute to medics and corpsmen. The AAPA endorses and approves a $500 contribution to the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project.

1988 The AAPA meets in Los Angeles, Ca. The Caucus sponsors the “Goodnight Vietnam” dance with special guest Chris Noel, whom Vietnam veterans will remember from the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.

1989 The AAPA holds its annual conference in Washington D.C. The Caucus holds a special Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

1990 Reception held In New Orleans honoring outstanding PAs. Coors hosts hospitality suite. Memorial Service is held by Caucus honoring Veterans.

1991 The Veterans Caucus initiates a huge banner with special ribbons that covers the AAPA National Office to honor the PAs serving in the Persian Gulf. The annual reception in San Francisco, California honors all Veterans. A unique welcome home for Desert Storm veterans was held. Caucus provides Honor Guard for AAPA Conference General Session.

1992 The Memorial Service in Nashville, TN awards are sponsored by Smith, Kline Beecham. Reception opened by Adm. Kenneth Moritsugu, MD. Veteran Caucus members sing “God Bless the USA,” with Lee Greenwood at his AAPA concert. Veterans Caucus hosts first international CME conference in St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands attracting over 200 PAs and other health care providers. We bid farewell and best wishes to many of our members who are called to serve in Somalia. Veterans Caucus hosts third annual Topics in the Tropics CME in St. Thomas, V.I.; this event was again well attended with excellent speakers.

1995 Veterans Caucus hosts fourth annual Topics in the Tropics CME. Thanks to Hurricane Marilyn and the destruction in St. Thomas, this event was held in Jamaica and once again well attended.

1996 The AAPA Annual Conference is held in New York City. The Memorial Day service honored those family members of Caucus members who had served in the United States Armed Forces. The Uniformed PA of the Year was Maj. Shep Stone, and the Civilian PAs of the Year were Jean Thompson and Jeff Heinreich.

1997 Civilian PA of the year was Doug Condit and Uniformed PA of the Year was Cpt. Greg Reisz.

1998 The annual Memorial Day theme was to honor the MEDEX PAs that contributed so much to the profession. The featured speaker was Dr. Richard Smith and the founder of the Medex program. The scholarship program continues to grow with over $22,000 in scholarship funds being to give in to needy PA students to date. The Uniformed PA of the Year Award was presented to Cpt. Alspach. The Civilian PA of the Year Award winner was Murl Dotson.

1999 This year’s Topics in the Tropics was held in St. Thomas, the garden paradise of the United States. Caucus members became aware of the need for assistance at the local Veterans Affair’s Office and were quick to donate enough funds for equipment to process veteran’s paperwork to leave this timely manner. The Memorial Day Service, held in Atlanta, honored the Navy corpsmen from which our profession began. The keynote speaker was U.S. Surgeon General, David Satcher. Honored guests included: Vic Germieno and Vice Admiral Richard Nelson. Antônio López received the Military PA of the Year Award and Jim Long, the Civilian PA of the Year award.

2000 The Veterans Caucus celebrated its 20th Anniversary and a Commemorative Journal was published. Highlights of this year included a Caucus donation of $2000 to The Vietnam Women’s Memorial, the publication of a 20th Anniversary Journal. Topics in the Tropics continued to be one of the yearly highlights with Puerto Vallarta being the location for this year’s conference. The founder of a Caucus, Ken Harbert, Executive Director of the group, resigned after 20 years. The annual Memorial Day service theme was 20 Years of Caring and Remembering. Chicago was the location and the featured speakers included: Terry Anderson, a former Middle East hostage, and Col. Donald Ballard, a Congressional a Medal of Honor winner for his service as a Navy Corpsman in Vietnam. Michael Doyle received the Uniformed Services PA the Year Award, while Tom Lemley received the Civilian PA of the Year Award.

2001 The Memorial Day service was held in Anaheim, California, and highlighted Special Operations forces. Featured speakers were: Medal of Honor recipient Col. Roger Donaldson, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California. Kathleen Adamson received the Uniformed Services of the Year Award and Kathy Fenell received the Civilian PA of the Year Award. Refugee Relief International received $1000 from the Veterans Caucus for its work. Funds were also raised during the Topics in the Tropics CME conference, to assist the local orphanage in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

2002 The annual Memorial Day service was held in Boston, Massachusetts. The theme was America at War: The time for Remembrance and Renewal. Adm. Kenneth Moritsugu was the keynote speaker. The Caucus was honored with the AAPA public education Paragon Award. This award is given to constituent organizations that have substantially increased awareness of the PA profession. The Caucus donated $1000 to the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans located in Boston. Mary Ann Ramos received the Uniformed Services of the Year Award and Gordon Huie received the Civilian PA year Award. Caucus members stood as Honor Guards, November 11th, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial during the reading of the names in Washington, DC. During the Topics in the Tropics in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, $1100 was raised for the local orphanage.

2003 The 12th Annual Topics in the Tropics was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica. This annual conference continues to be a major contributor to our highly successful scholarship program. Our Memorial Day Service was held in New Orleans and the featured speakers included: Air Force Master Sgt. Calvin Markham, a decorated veteran of the war in Afghanistan who plans on becoming a Physician Assistant, and Peace Fox, a cofounder of the Homeless Veterans Shelter in Boston, Massachusetts. William Tozier received the Uniformed Services PA the Year Award and Randy Danielson, the Civilian PA of the Year Award.

2004 Cancun was the site for the 13th annual Topics in Tropics. The Memorial Day service was held in Las Vegas, Nevada with featured speaker Maj. John Padgett, who praised the men and women currently serving in Iraq, saying that they are tough, courageous, brave, and compassionate and that they won’t back down. The Uniformed Services of the Year Awards went to Maj. John Padgett and Capt. Robert Heath, both military physician assistants serving in Iraq. The scholarships that were awarded came to a total of $22,500.

2005 The Caucus celebrated its 25th Anniversary. From the beginning, the Veterans Caucus has grown and developed into one of the most dynamic organizations within the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The Memorial Day Service held in Orlando, honored Capt. Donald Grimes, United States Army. He was the first Physician Assistant to be killed in line of duty and was honored with a scholarship donated in his name. His father attended the moving Memorial Day Service. The Uniformed Services Physician Assistant of the Year was Maj. John Nelson, United States Army and the Civilian PA of the Year Award was given to Thomas Zampieri. Dr. Eugene Stead, the creator of the physician assistant profession passed away and the Caucus honored him with a $1000 donation to the Stead Fund for Innovation. The Topics in the Tropics conference was held in the Dominican Republic and, as always, the Caucus raised funds for a local charity.

 
2006 - The Annual Memorial Day Service held in San Francisco featured and honored Women Who Serve in the military. Featured speakers recalled not only their own experiences in the military, but also the contributions of women in the military throughout history. Army Major Lucinda Wilson spoke of her recent deployments having just returned from 14 months in operation Iraqi freedom. She is the daughter of Caucus Board member Miguel Valdez, himself a retired Air Force Major. Air Force Colonel Cheryl Gregorio reflected on her 30 years of service and the many significant changes that have occurred regarding the utilization of women in the armed forces.  Well over 600 people attended the service which was followed by the scholarship presentation. This year the Caucus gave over $20,000 worth of financial aid to deserving PA students, many of whom have served in the military.
 
This year's Physician Assistant of the Year award was given to Pat Ivory for his tireless encouragement and mentoring of physician assistant students. Pat is a former Navy corpsman who works in family practice and is an instructor at the Lock Haven University PA program. The Civilian PA the Year was Ruth Ballweg, Director of the Medex Northwest program. She received her award for her recognition of the military experience as being an important value to the physician assistant student.
 
Topics in the Tropics held in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico was once again a very successful CME event. Well over a hundred attendees gathered at the Melia Resort for three days of CME as well as some fun in the sun.  This year AAPA president, Mary Ettari, attended the meeting and gave an update on the Academy's activities.  As always, our speakers received high grades from the conference attendees and the meetings were strongly attended.
 
During the Topics, the Veterans Caucus and its friends donated $750 to the local orphanage, Refugio Infantil Santa Esparanza. This continues a tradition of helping a local charitable organization during the Topics in the Tropics. 
 
The Caucus also contributed funds for the statue "Life Savers Then, Caregivers Now" that was placed in the garden at the Stead Center in Research Triange, North Carolina.  A number of art prints depicting veterans contributions to the physician assistant profession were also donated by Caucus members.  They are displayed on the Wall of Honor within the Center.  A Caucus member also shipped out care packages to individual soldiers stationed in Iraq.
 
2007 - The Caucus continued to grow and develop as a major organization within the AAPA during the year 2007. The Memorial Day Service held in Philadelphia honored those family members who are left behind when a military person goes off to war. The Service recognized the many sacrifices, pain and suffering that those who send their servicemen and women to conflicts must go through. The annual Service was well attended as always and the post service reception gave the membership and its supporters the opportunity to socialize and catch up on the past year's activities.
 
The Veterans Caucus 2007 Physician Assistant of the Year Award recipient for Military PA of the Year was Col. Cheryl Gregorio, USAF in recognition of her 30 years of military service and her untiring support of physician assistants in the military. Col. Gregorio's extensive military career showcases her great dedication to America and her willingness to defend its ideals. She was honored for her dedication, loyalty, service and for being a true role model for all physician assistants.

The Civilian PA of the Year Award was given to Tim Egan, MPAS, PA-C for his continuous efforts on behalf of local VFW and American Legion organizations, as well as, his involvement in national veteran’s organizations. Egan was recognized for his involvement in PA student education and his work with numerous other charitable and veteran causes.

The Caucus, along with its friends and supporters, continued it’s highly successful Scholarship Program by donating over $22,000 to deserving PA students with military connections. The Scholarship Program continues to be a vital and integral part of the Veterans Caucus mission.

The Caucus sustained a major loss with the passing of Lt. Col. David Gwinn, Retired United States Air Force. David also known as "Bubba" had for many years been a major player in the Veterans Caucus. His contributions and organizational capabilities helped create the Caucus and for many years he served in leadership positions within the group. He was not only a mentor to many; he was also a friend to many. David will continue to have a positive effect on our organization as his spirit will continue to energize the Caucus into the future.

The Topics in the Tropics was held in Cancun, Mexico at the Hilton Resort in December and was immensely successful. As in the past, those who attended the program gave plenty of great reviews, not only for content of the CME, but the location as well. Also receiving high marks was the way the entire program was handled by conference staff and the Board of Directors.

 
2008 - The Memorial Day Service was held in San Antonio, Texas and was attended by hundreds of military and civilian PAs and their supporters. This year's theme honored Chaplains in the Military. Special recognition was also given to a founding member of the Veterans Caucus who passed away in 2007. Lt. Col. David Gwinn, USAF (Ret.) was honored posthumously with the Veterans Caucus Lifetime Achievement Award. He was recognized for his lifelong commitment to the Caucus and the PA profession. Also receiving awards were: Capt. Patrick Williams, United States Army, who received the Uniformed Services PA the Year Award for his gallantry in action caring for a wounded soldier in Iraq and Michael Goodwin, PA-C was presented the Civilian PA of the Year Award for his contributions to community service and education. 

Topics in the Tropics 2008 was held in the Dominican Republic at the Melia Caribe Tropical Resort and was extremely well attended. It received outstanding reviews. The Caucus and friends made a charity donation of $500 to a local Dominican school.

This year a total of $19,000 was awarded to deserving scholarship recipients. The first David Gwinn Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Brandi Jo Crabtree.

 
2009 - The annual Memorial Day Service was held in San Diego, California. Once again, it was a highly emotional and successful event remembering our fallen comrades. The program honored the National Guard for their service. Also honored, was former Caucus leader Tom Lemley, who held many high-ranking positions in the Caucus and the AAPA. He passed away this year.

The winner of the Veterans Caucus Uniformed Services Physician Assistant of the Year Award was Air Force Captain Tim Harrelson for his gallantry in action in stabilizing 30 wounded soldiers during numerous battles fought against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Veterans Caucus Civilian Physician Assistant of the Year Award was given to Mr. Earl Morse PA-C retired Air Force Captain who created the Honor Flight program which brings World War II veterans to the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC at no charge to the veterans.

The Veterans Caucus also donated $500 to the local Fisher House in San Diego that cares for wounded returning service personnel.

The Veterans Caucus proudly awarded $25,000 in scholarship funds to Physician Assistant students who had previously served in the military.

The 18th Annual Topics in the Tropics Conference was held in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and as always was highly successful. The attendee evaluations showed that the Caucus once again provided high-quality CME in an awesome location at very reasonable rates. The Caucus and its friends donated nearly $1100 to the Feed the Children program in the local area.

 
2010 -showcased our military and physician assistants and most of the world helping in relief efforts in Haiti. A devastating earthquake of a magnitude we hope to never see again in our lifetime left most of the country without homes, water, food or even families. Our military, physician assistants, physicians or just about anyone went right to work. One was our current President-Elect, Mike Gallagher.

The Veterans Caucus celebrated its 30th anniversary at this year's annual Memorial Day Service. Three decades ago, a handful of physician assistants, who were veterans, gathered together to discuss their past experiences and their mutual interests within the PA profession. Many of these men had served in Vietnam, as well as, having had stateside duty. Since that time, the Caucus has grown to become one of the most visible Constituent Organizations within the AAPA. Many of its members and officers have gone on to hold positions of responsibility within the Academy. Throughout the years, the Caucus has represented veteran’s interests to the Academy, as well as, other health care institutions and groups. Its efforts along with other military physician assistant groups were instrumental in the successful effort to attain full commission for physician assistants within the military and the uniformed public health services. The Caucus, with its annual PA of the Year Awards, continues to recognize the contributions of both uniformed services and civilian PAs for their outstanding contributions to the profession. The annual Caucus scholarship program donates to, and co-ordinates the distribution of, thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for physician assistant students with military backgrounds.

The 30th Memorial Day Celebration held in Atlanta was another success – evoking the reverence and dignity due to all those who have served and died for the United States of America. The ceremony included all of the wonderful components used in the past, such as: presenting of the colors, prayer, and music. The guest speakers this year included Randy Danielsen, Lt. Col., USA (ret) who spoke of the first 15 years, and Vicki Chan Padgett, Major, USAF (ret) who then spoke of the second 15 years. A wonderful and moving tribute was given to Ken Gartzke, a lifetime member and Board of Director of the Veterans Caucus who died this past year.

This year marked the unveiling of our new print “Avenue of Heroes” by commissioned artist and fellow veteran Austin Deuel. The painting includes heroic acts by various medics including PAs during wartime. It has been described as "depicting real heroes." It is a wonderful piece depicting heroic actions by Medics with scenes that cover periods beginning with World War I and ending with our current Iraq/Afghanistan War. These heroic actions earned some of the highest awards given to our military to include The Medal of Honor. We are selling this print in an effort to generate enough funds to continue to support our scholarship program.

The winner of the Veterans Caucus Uniformed Services Physician Assistant of the Year Award was John Conza, LCDR, USN. Lt. Commander John Conza was chosen because of his humanitarian assistance around the world. He is known as a leader in teaching his fellow corpsman and mentoring the right ones to become PAs. He is a leader, healer, educator and a devoted father of four, who still finds time to give back to his community. He is a credit to himself, his community, the U.S. Navy and the PA Profession. No Veterans Caucus Civilian Physician Assistant of the Year Award was given this year.

Continuing with a yearly tradition at our Memorial Day Ceremony, we once again raffled a quilt, made especially for the Caucus, by Laura Hume as her donation to our Scholarship Fund. The theme for the design of the 2010 quilt pattern was the Mexican-American War. The quilt brought in $900 to the scholarship fund.

Valentin Bonilla was the winner of the Topics in the Tropics raffle ticket drawing held after the Memorial Day Ceremony. The meeting this year is being held in Puerto Rico.

The Veterans Caucus was the Chief Delegate for the 2010 House of Delegates in Atlanta. Mike Valdez served as the Chief Delegate and Mike Gallagher served as his alternate. This was an eye opening experience.

An era passes as our longtime Board member, Newsletter Editor, and Secretary/ Treasurer moves on. Tim Egan has been a powerful force within our Caucus for the past 14 years and will be missed.

The Caucus has a new and improved Website and Webmaster. The Caucus welcomed Fred Brace who has done wonders with the new site with the same address. He has put a lot of energy into the site and we hope you continue to visit.

The 19th Annual Topic in the Tropics was the second largest conference to date – and another great experience held in Puerto Rico. The much awaited raffle drawings – held each day – had a lot of winners including: LaTanya Williams, Floyd Marshall, Naomi Shencavitz, Catherine Jones, Le Anne Morey, Joanna Michaelangelo, Chris Mendez, Bob Marbach, Jonathan Hosey and Jeff Welsch. The grand prize winner of FREE registration for next year’s conference in Cancun was Max Swenson. Max has attended ten conferences to date.

During this year’s annual Topics in the Tropics conference held in Puerto Rico, the Veterans Caucus donated $500 to the Casa Del Veterano. This facility is located in Juana Diaz and established in 1998 to provide long-term nursing and domiciliary care with complete medical services to honorably discharged veterans of the US Armed Forces. The facility is the only institution in the Caribbean providing these types of service to veterans. Casa Del Veterano has 120 skilled nursing beds, 120 domiciliary beds, and has a staff of 205 personnel.

 
2011 The Veterans Caucus held its 31st Annual Memorial Day Service in Las Vegas with a Tribute to Those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. As in the past, it was a moving service. We started with the seating of the distinguished guests, and then the Presentation of the Colors by the Color Guard from Nellis Air Force Base. Then Troy Eden, AP-C led us in the singing of the National Anthem followed by a beautiful prayer by Jack Pike, PA-C, FCPA Past-President. The guest speaker this year was Leonard Q. Gruppo, Jr., EM PA-C Major USA. Not only did he give a wonderful talk about his time in these countries but he took the time to show us a picture of every medical person who has perished in these two conflicts.

After that Rodney Richmond, PA-C, Capt. NGB (Ret.) wrote another song for the Caucus and performed it live called “After the Shock and Awe”. Hal Slusher, PA-C, USA (Ret.) did the roll call but not before he made us think and made us laugh. He also said good-bye. This is his last meeting and he will be truly missed. He has been a lifetime member and a very active member of the Veterans Caucus for many years. Dave Coleman, PA-C Capt. USAF(Ret.) then sang America the Beautiful followed by a reading entitled, “Letter from Iraq” by John Padgett Ph.D., PA-C, Maj. USA(Ret.)

Next up was the White Table by Bob Potter PA-C, Capt. USA (Ret.); Taps and then one of our favorite awards the Scholarship Announcements. This is something we could not do without the continuous support of those who buy the raffle tickets; attend Topics in the Topics cme event, our members and those of you who continue to support your own scholarships. Rodney Grogan PA-C, USAF (Ret.) announced all the winners and a few were present.

Mike Valdez, PA-CX, Maj., USAF (Ret.) announced the winner of the Veterans Caucus Uniformed Services Physician Assistant of the Year Award was Captain Richard Waggoner, PA-C. Captain Waggoner was chosen for his tremendous concern, caring and devotion toward his patients, his peers and his country. His history of leadership and commitment is our profession’s future. “He is a must have when lives are at stake”

Then he announced the winner of the Veterans Caucus Civilian Physician Assistant of the Year Award was Amiel Narcelle Redfish, PA-C. (PEJUTA WICASA) Amiel was chosen for his for his caring and giving ways and his selfless dedication towards those he continues to care for today. He lives to give!

Then we retired The Colors all joined hands and sang the Veterans Caucus song, “God Bless the USA”.

After the Memorial Day Service, we moved to another room and held our membership social reception which was quite a success. Continuing with a yearly tradition, we once again raffled a quilt, made especially for the Veterans Caucus, by Laura Hume as her donation to our Scholarship Fund. The theme for the design of the 2010 quilt pattern was the Civil War. The quilt brought in $500 to the scholarship fund.

Mr. Greg Gilreath from Crossville, TN and a lifetime member of the AAPA Veterans Caucus had his raffle ticket pulled during the social reception for the free trip to Topics in the Tropics. He has been a regular supporter of the raffle ticket event and Topics in the Tropics. The meeting this year will be held in the Mexican Rivera.

This year the Veterans Caucus and the AAPA lost another great friend and lifetime member, Mr. Jesse Edwards. Jesse had a distinguished 23-year military career, working as a health care provider and in medical administration. He retired from the University of Nebraska Medical Center after 41 years as a national pioneering leader of Physician Assistant Programs. He will be memorialized in perpetuity as the US Air Force designates the "Jesse C. Edwards Company Grade Physician Assistant of the Year" award. Jesse also won the AAPA Veterans Caucus Lifetime Achievement Award. A Veterans Caucus Scholarship is being developed by his family and friends in his memory.

The 20th Annual Topic in the Tropics was the third largest conference to date and another great experience held in a new resort called Dreams in the Mexican Rivera. Everyone loved this all-inclusive resort and the cme meeting was a huge success with all our returning dynamite speakers. The grand prize winners of FREE registration for next year’s conference in the Dominican Republic were Rock Munsee and Jerry Reed. Jerry and his family have been regular attendees for years.

During this year’s annual Topics in the Tropics conference, we held a dinner dance to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We had door prizes, raffles, dinner and then dancing to a great band to close the evening. It was a wonderful evening that everyone is sure to remember for years to come.

 
2012 Elections for 2012 have added the following individuals to the Board of Directors effective Jun 1, 2012: Vicki Chan-Padgett - President Elect, Fred Brace – Secretary, Gino Gianola – Treasurer and Directors-at-Large Marcos Otero, Mike Wolter and Charles Haney.

In January, President Elect John Padgett represented the Caucus at the Veterans Initiative meeting in Washington, D.C. The Initiative is the brainchild of First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. This meeting has started to bring all the entities together that are working towards veterans goals. PTSD/TBI identification and treatment, getting veterans back to work and veterans’ homelessness were some of the issues discussed.

The Veterans Caucus held its 32nd Annual Memorial Day Service during IMPACT 2012 in Toronto, Canada with a Tribute to the Collaboration between American and Canadian Citizens in the Pursuit of World Peace. As in the past, it was a moving service. We started with the seating of the distinguished guests, and then the Presentation of the Canadian and U.S. Colors by the Canadian Honor Guard. This was followed by the Canadian National Anthem, “O, Canada” and our National Anthem. The Opening Prayer was read by Jack Pike, PA-C, FCPA Past-President. The guest speaker for this year was Nick Withers, MD, L.Col. Dr Withers has practiced medicine in Afghanistan and has been instrumental in Physician Assistant utilization in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Rodney Richmond, PA-C, Capt. NGB (Ret.) wrote another song for the Caucus and performed it live called “Common Ground”. “America’s White Table” was read by Vicki Chan-Padgett, PA-C, Maj, USAF (Ret.) and Fred Brace, PA-C, DFAAPA, USAF (Ret.) did roll call this year. Taps and Amazing Grace were then played by the Canadian bugler and bagpiper respectively.

The awarding of the Veterans Caucus Scholarships for 2012 was announced by Rock Munsee, PA-C, Maj, USAF (Ret.). This is something we could not do without the continuous support of those who buy the raffle tickets; attend our Topics in the Topics cme event, our members and those of you who continue to support your own scholarships. One winner, Nicholas Gibson, PA-S from Emory University was present this year.

Mike Gallagher, PA-C, Maj., USAF (Ret.) announced the winner of the Veterans Caucus Uniformed Services Physician Assistant of the Year Award, Ken Wade, PA-C, Col, USAF, RET. Ken was chosen for this award for his contributions as a medical service officer and medical supervisor that directly contributed to the success of the mission in Afghanistan and during his entire military career.

Then we retired The Colors. All joined hands and sang the Veterans Caucus song, “God Bless the USA”.

After the Memorial Day Service, we adjourned to the rear of the room and held our membership social reception which was quite a success. Continuing with a yearly tradition, we once again raffled a quilt, made especially for the Veterans Caucus, by Laura Hume as her donation to our Scholarship Fund. The theme for the design of the 2012 quilt pattern was the 1898 Spanish American War. The quilt brought in $575 to the scholarship fund. A framed copy of “God Loves the Grunt” was auctioned for $550. Our Vacation of your Dreams raffle went to Dr. Robert Cipro of Massachusetts.

Mr. Jerry Reed from Tecumsch, MI and a lifetime member of the AAPA Veterans Caucus had his raffle ticket pulled during the social reception for the free trip to Topics in the Tropics. He has been a regular supporter of the raffle ticket event and Topics in the Tropics. The meeting this year will be held in the Punta Cana of the Dominican Republic.

The Caucus was also involved in chairing a Military Summit meeting at IMPACT 2012. This meeting brought together members of the Veterans Caucus, the AAPA, VA, USPHS, and PA educators. Goals established were to start a “Train the Trainer” Program that would get members of the Veterans Caucus trained in PTSD and then sent out to train others. A “Heal the Healer” would accomplish the same task for health care providers. Getting this training on the curriculum of all PA programs was also discussed. Collaboration with many national programs will be established for all veteran issues.

21st Annual Topics in the Tropics, December 5 – 8, 2012 at the Melia Caribe Tropical Spa and Resort (all-inclusive) in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, was well attended. See you in Puerto Vallarta next year.

2013 Elections for 2013 have added the following individuals to the Board of Directors effective Jun 1, 2013: Mike Gallagher- President Elect, and Directors-at-Large Miguel Valdez.

During IMPACT 2013 in Washington, DC, the Veterans Caucus had a seat in the AAPA House of Delegates for the first time. Duties were shared by Caucus Chief Delegate John Padgett and other Caucus members.

Our Memorial Day Ceremony was held Monday, May 27, 2013 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington, D.C. The theme for this year was paying tribute to our fallen Physician Assistants in the War Against Terrorism.

22nd Annual Topics in the Tropics, December 11 – 14, 2013 at the Melia Spa and Resort (all-inclusive) in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, was well attended depite significant weather in much of the Continental US. See you in Cancun next year.

2014 Elections for 2014 have added the following individuals to the Board of Directors effective Jun 1, 2014: Rock Munsee - President Elect,  and Directors-at-Large Cheryl Gregorio and Rod Grogan.

The Annual Memorial Day Ceremony was held on Monday, May 26, 2014 in the Boston Convention and Exposition Center. This event was held during the national AAPA Conference IMPACT 2014 in Boston, MA, celebrating 34 years of the AAPA Veterans Caucus. The theme was: Boston: Beacon of Liberty Then and Now

The Key note speaker was Dixie Patterson, PA-C. She was a volunteer, first responder in the Finish Line Medical Tent at the 2013 Boston Marathon where she helped aid bombing victims at the first blast site on Boylston St.

23rd Annual Topics in the Tropics, December 10 – 13, 2014 at the Paradisus Cancun All Inclusive Resort and Spa in Cancun, Mexico, was well the best attended conference in Caucus history. See you in Punta Cana next year.

2015 Elections for 2015 have added the following individuals to the Board of Directors effective Jun 1, 2015: Chuck Haney- President Elect, Directors-at-Large Miguel Valdez and Mike Milner and Student Representative Robert Nydam.

The Annual Memorial Ceremony was held on Monday, May 25, 2015 in the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. This event was held during the national AAPA Conference IMPACT 2015 in San Francisco, CA. celebrating 35 years of the AAPA Veterans Caucus. The theme for 2015 was "No One Left Behind."

The Keynote Speaker for 2015 was Denni Woodmansee, Director of Physician Assistant Services, Office of the ADUSH for Patient Care Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and spoke of “The hidden casualties of war; Bringing them all the way home.”.

24th Annual Topics in the Tropics, December 9 – 12, 2015 at the Dreams Resort and Spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, was a well attended conference. See you in Puerto Vallarta next year.

2016 Elections for 2016 have added the following individuals to the Board of Directors effective Jun 1, 2016: Cheryl Gregorio - President Elect, Mike Milner - Treasurer, Fred Brace - Secretary, and Directors-at-Large Rod Grogan, Chris Melcher and Mike Wolter.

The Annual Memorial Ceremony was held on Monday, May 16, 2016 in the San Antonio Convention Center. This event was held during the AAPA 2016 Conference in San Antonio, TX. celebrating 36 years of the AAPA Veterans Caucus. The theme for 2016 was "Remember our Roots." The first Keynote Speaker was Kenneth R. Harbert Ph.D., PA Founding member of the Veterans Caucus who spoke of "Lifesavers Then…Caregivers Now: The Legacy of the PA Profession" . The second Keynote Speaker was Rubina DaSilva PA-C, President, Veterans Affairs PA Association who spoke about “Back to our Roots, for Today’s Troops”

The 25th Annual Topics in the Tropics, December 7 – 10, 2016 at the Melia Vacation Club and All-Inclusive Beach Resort, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, was well attended. See you in Punta Cana next year.

2017