Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center
Its All About the Journey Not the Destination
Veteran and VA Employee Take Quote ‘It’s All About the Journey, Not the Destination’ to New Level
When Marine Corps Veteran C.W. Cook first came to Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center in 2014 to enroll for health care, he expected to receive quality care and to be treated with the kindness and respect he had earned and deserved. In his words, he received those things, but so much more. Through a connection of faith and fellowship with one VA employee, he gained a new family and a friendship that will last forever.
CW and Chris Crumpton, Administrative Officer on Duty (AOD), soon realized they had many things in common including their faith and other hobbies such as hunting. The two went on hunting trips together and CW not only became close with Chris, but also Chris’ wife Jacqi, and their two sons Dalton and Connor.
In CW’s regular visits to Chris at the VA they had discussions of how CW had always wanted to take a trip to Washington, D.C., to see all of the monuments and other sites in the nation’s capital. CW, a Vietnam Veteran who served in De Nang from 1968-69 with the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, and earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, had always wanted to see the Vietnam Wall and other historical monuments that span our nation’s history. He had never enjoyed flying, and dreamed of a road trip where he could take his time and enjoy the sights along the way. Chris wanted to make this dream a reality for CW and he began making plans for a family vacation where they could all go together. At this point, Chris and his family considered CW a part of the family and looked forward to spending this time together.
“CW is more than just a friend,” Chris said. “I still remember when CW and I would talk about our faith and he wore a small cross that was pinned to his hat. He gave me that cross and now I wear it on my jacket lapel. He is family now.”
After many weeks of planning, in August 2017 they set off on the 14-hour road trip that would begin a 7-day journey. The family took in all the monuments along the National Mall all the way from the Capitol steps to the Lincoln Memorial. They also visited the Smithsonian, National Archives, Ford’s Theater, Arlington National Cemetery and had a tour of the Capitol. And as they said, no trip to the cradle of the nation would be complete without a visit to Mt. Vernon in nearby Virginia.
“Oh my Lord, it was wonderful,” said CW. “It was a lot of walking, but that was good for me. I enjoyed that trip from the bottom of my heart.”
Chris and CW are now trying to determine where the next trip will be.
In January 2018, an employee familiar with the Chris’ and CW’s friendship and their trip nominated Chris for a quarterly ICARE award. The medical center recognizes employees each quarter for actions that exemplify one of the ICARE values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence. Chris was recognized for the ICARE value of Advocacy in an awards ceremony in February. When Chris approached the podium, accompanied by CW, he explained to the audience that the sky is the limit of what we can do for each other if we just open our hearts. No better evidence of the results of such an act of kindness exists than the smile on CW’s face, and the apparent pride for his friend it represented, as Chris spoke.