Medal of Honor recipient and former VA employee speaks to VA leaders

VA recently held its first VA Patient Experience Symposium to bring more than 400 VA leaders together for the purpose of sharing best practices in customer service. One of the VA’s most notable former employees shared his experiences at the VA with the symposium. Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams, Marine Corps, World War II and Iwo Jima Veteran worked for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for more than 30 years. Williams was one of the first VA employees (then named the Veterans Administration) hired in West Virginia, and now has a VA hospital named in his honor.

“The Veterans and their loved ones in this country of ours, could not exist, in my opinion without the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Williams. “Where would they go? How would they receive those things to which they are entitled if there were not people who were willing to give their lives, energy, wisdom, to serve other people…That’s certainly is what we are all about.”

During his remarks, he compared the VA of yesterday and today’s VA, which he observed first hand as a Veteran and employee.

“We are seeking ways, every way we possibly can to make absolutely sure that every Veteran and their widow and orphans, their families, receive those things to which they are really entitled and earned by protecting us and our freedom,” said Williams. “Think of that, how much change has taken place, and every bit of it is good. But we still have a way to go. There’s still those out there that we need to make sure are not left behind. What you are doing here today, is working on that road, that path to succeed in that goal.”

Williams spent some time at the symposium, sharing his experiences and learning of the new patient experience efforts underway such as the Red Coat Ambassadors or the 10-4 zone.

“It has been my life of joy, to be able to serve my fellow Veterans,” concluded Williams.

Watch Williams’ full remarks.

The Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation has focused on conducting outreach to Veterans and erecting monuments to Gold Star families. Learn more.


Tim Hudak

  joined the VA in December 2013 and is on the Veterans Experience Office team. Tim, a Chicago-land native enlisted in the Marine Corps straight out of high school. As an intelligence analyst he deployed to Al Anbar province, Iraq with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 in 2006 and 2008. After the Marine Corps, Tim used the GI Bill to earn a degree in Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., and co-founded the university’s first student Veteran organization. Tim is active in many Veteran organizations.