On April 23, Phoenix VA held a ribbon cutting ceremony renaming its 60,000 square-foot clinic in Gilbert, AZ, to the SSG Alexander W. Conrad VA Health Care Clinic.

Conrad, a Chandler native, was killed in action in June 2018 at the age of 26. He died from injuries sustained from indirect enemy fire in Somalia. Conrad was a human intelligence officer who served two deployments in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and later a tour to Africa in support of Operation Octave Shield.

He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with Valor and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Honoring a hero

Phoenix VA Health Care leadership, along with Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Arizona Department of Veterans Services Director Col. Wanda Wright, and many other local distinguished guests attended the ribbon cutting ceremony. Ten members of the Gold Star Mothers flew in from throughout the country to join in this special occasion.

Col. Wanda Wright presents Conrad’s father, Roy, with the Arizona Gold Star Medal.

Conrad’s parents were presented with framed copies of Public Law 116-295. The law renames the facility on behalf of their son. Wright presented Conrad’s father with the Arizona Gold Star Medal.

Remarks were by Conrad’s Army colleagues, including his first non-commissioned officer and military mentor, Sam Rogers. A representative from the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) who served with him in Somalia also spoke.

Conrad’s sister, Christie Palcisko, gave a heartfelt speech that left much of the audience in tears but also laughing at memories of her brother’s love for the song “Africa” by Toto.

Personal memorabilia

“We are proud to rename our Gilbert Clinic in honor of SSG Conrad and his exemplary military service,” said Michael Welsh, the deputy medical center director. “The clinic bearing his name now offers visitors two floors worth of personal memorabilia donated by the Conrad family to keep his memory alive.”

The clinic in Gilbert offers medical services to about 20,000 Veterans across the East Valley. Services provided include primary care, specialty treatment in mental health, dermatology, gastroenterology, rheumatology, dentistry and radiology.

This June, Phoenix VA has plans to open a new 200,000 square foot “super clinic” in Phoenix.

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