By Debbie Gregory.
You’re not seeing double when you visit the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS.)
VA employees Judith Ruiz and Yolanda Ruiz-Isales are identical twins. But the similarities don’t end there: both had 27 year nursing careers, both attained advanced degrees in nursing management, and both completed officer training courses.
The sisters also followed similar career paths. Judith is the Admissions Intake Coordinator for Polytrauma, while Yolanda is the Nurse Manager for the Outpatient Surgical Specialty Clinics.
The desire to serve came to the sisters when they were young girls. They had an aunt who was an Army nurse during the Korean War.
The sisters found themselves together several times at officer training, Walter Reed, Korea and in graduate school.
Yolanda attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and Judith did her fellowship at the Army Environmental Policy Institute.
Their first-hand knowledge of military systems and culture came in handy when they transitioned to their VA careers. That knowledge and experience is being utilized to train and mentor their fellow nurses and VA employees.
The twins found their work at the STVHCS satisfying. Having previously worked with physical therapists and occupational therapists, Judith was a natural fit for the polytrauma unit. She takes pride in the impact that she has not only on patients but their families. “The family members realize that I am an advocate for them,” said Judith.
The Ruiz sisters said it is different when one Veteran assists another. Both Judith and Yolanda say serving Veterans is simple. “The Veterans need to feel like there is someone connecting them to this very large and complex healthcare system,” Yolanda said. “But you have to instill that mindset and you have to live that culture every day…that’s leadership!”
The sisters are a shining example of what great employees veterans are. When employers hire veterans, they are not only doing the right thing, they are also gaining loyal, skilled and valuable employees.