May Heroes: Honoring veteran doctors and nurses at Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center

Here's what we know

HOUSTON – Dr. Edward Cathright is a dentist at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston.

He served 34 years with the Army Dental Corps, and said he has always known he would one day work at the VA.

“Being a veteran, it was just a natural fit for me. I always said when I was on active duty when I get out of the military my primary goal was to work for the Department of Veteran Affairs,” said Cathright.

He joined the Dental Corps in 1982 and has worked at the Houston VA since 2018.

He says his experiences in the field help him better connect with veteran patients.

“Being a veteran myself, I know the concerns that I had when I was returning and coming into the civilian world. We can strike up a conversation and that puts them at ease,” said Cathright.

And that is exactly what cardiac nurse manager Elizabeth Coile says makes the care at the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center the best care in the country.

“We care for them as best we can and they say they appreciate it every day,” said Coile.

Coile served in the US Army and Army Reserve for 33 years. She also spent time as a medic and as part of the Army Nurse Corps. She too chose to practice at the Houston VA in order to honor, serve and care for all those who came before her.

“There’s an underlying understanding that military people have. We’ve had several patients who have come in and have had a lot of anxiety about procedures they are going through sometimes. When they know you’ve been in the military, it’s a calming sensation,” said Coile.

Dr. Jeffrey Jones is the Chief of Urology at the VA and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine.

He spent 16 years as a flight surgeon with the Marine Corps and 16 as a navy officer.

He was also a flight surgeon for NASA for 13 years.

“You can think about it like a band of brothers, in this case, a band of brothers and sisters who have bonded in the heat of battle and have a special trust of each other who have an opportunity to take care of each other when the going gets tough... and that’s what we have here at the VA,” said Jones.

Jones said veterans have a unique set of challenges and medical burdens that the VA understands with specialists in every single discipline to provide the greatest care.

“I would like to say to our veterans, we’re here for you. We want you to have the best possible care. It’s a real honor and privilege to serve you, our veterans,” said Jones.

When called heroes, all three medical professionals scoffed at the idea, telling KPRC 2 they are just doing what they love, they are part of a bigger team who offers great support and they are blessed to be able to help and give back to our men and women who have served our country so bravely.