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Social worker’s 48 years at VA

VA social worker Kris McGlathery has spent most of her 78 years in the service of others.

“I tell Veterans all the time to check out VA.”

As a Red Cross volunteer during the Vietnam War, McGlathery served as a lifeline, reuniting and helping the families of wounded service members returning from battlefields. Her VA service at North Texas VA began in 1976 as a ward clerk, bringing her friendly demeanor and compassion to each patient completing paperwork. Her commitment, education and professionalism led her supervisors to make her a social worker.

“It’s remarkable to see the changes in VA and the social work profession over the years and just how far we’ve come in both,” said McGlathery.

A pivotal moment in her long VA career was shaped by legislation that defined broader Veteran eligibility for VA services. This turning point brought a surge of Veterans seeking care like that of the PACT Act. McGlathery was there to guide her new patients through the health care and benefits process.

Her enduring commitment to the well-being of Veterans

Her mission from day one as a social worker was clear. “I help Veterans advocate for themselves and their health care,” she said.

She is among a select group of VA social workers who practice with a just a bachelor’s degree, a recognition of her invaluable experience and deep respect within the community. VA’s standards have since shifted during McGlathery’ s time with VA to requiring advanced degrees. With her vast experience, she is a bridge between eras, grandfathered in and a testament to her enduring commitment to the well-being of Veterans.

“I tell Veterans all the time to check out VA. I think it’s important for us as social workers to constantly try to find a way to say yes more. Nothing is impossible, just improbable or difficult,” she added.

As McGlathery reflects on her 48-year VA career, she doesn’t count her successes in awards or formal recognition. She measures her achievements in the thousands of Veteran lives she has touched and the positive changes she has enacted within VA. Her legacy is woven into the fabric of North Texas VA, evident in the consistent care and respect she has shown each Veteran.

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