Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
World War II Veterans Honor VA Employees
During World War II, Army Veteran Paul Andert just about saw it all. He took part in the Allied invasions of North Africa and Italy, landed on Omaha Beach during the D-Day Invasion of France and later fought in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.
For his combat service, Andert earned numerous medals including the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.
In 2000, Andert enrolled for VA health care and receives his primary care through the Ernest Childers VA Outpatient Clinic in Tulsa. He is also a big advocate for VA.
As a member of the “World War II Vets of Tulsa,” a Veterans Service Organization which was founded in 1977, Andert encourages other World War II Veterans in the organization to enroll for VA health care.
“Most of the World War II guys I know never applied for anything while they were working, because they felt like they didn’t need the government,” said Andert, who is 91 and lives in Tulsa. “They were out to do it on their own. So then when they become retired, they thought ‘hey I need to find out what I’m entitled to.’ They finally woke up and I tell them they woke up too late, because some of them could have done something a long time ago.”
Andert often drives Veterans to the Tulsa Clinic to help them enroll and also serves as a liaison between Veterans and VA staff. Andert said he counts on two VA employees the most when he or another Veteran needs assistance – Patient Advocate Joe Marengo and Registered Nurse Christi Williams.
“When I bring a guy, I bring him to Joe,” said Andert, who has sought out Marengo’s assistance for more than seven years. “I’ve been coming here for quite some time and we have on occasion needed help for various World War II guys in our group and most always we’ve went to Joe first to find out what’s the best approach.”
Andert receives his care from the Tulsa Green Team and has personally received care from Williams for more than five years. Andert said he also counts on Williams when other Veterans have a medical question.
“She’s worked with us on all kinds of medical situations as they came up,” said Andert. “She has done a lot and is someone we can rely on.”
To show his gratitude to Marengo and Williams, Andert presented them with an engraved plaque and an engraved American Eagle on April 25 on behalf of the World War II Vets of Tulsa.
“We’re very appreciative of what these folks do,” said Andert. “Everybody needs somebody who cares and you can count on. That’s what you need.”
Marengo said it was humbling to be recognized by an American hero such as Andert.
“I can’t put it in words,” said Marengo. “I love all our Veterans and what they do for us, but to get something like this from Paul means a lot to me.”
Marengo also thanked Andert for being an advocate for VA when he speaks to local high schools and organizations.
“I’m so grateful for Paul and their group for the way they speak up for us,” said Marengo. “He comes to our defense and no one asked him to.”
Williams said she enjoys providing care to all Veterans, but holds a special place in her heart for World War II Veterans such as Andert.
“Paul makes my job easy,” said Williams. “He comes in and is always pleasant. I enjoy talking to him. He’s always respectful and patient and always has a smile on his face.”
Williams said the award from Andert was an honor.
“It really means a lot to me,” said Williams. “Somehow God knows when you need that little lift and it came at a good time from one of best Veterans I’ve ever known.”