Army Veteran Carl Haaland is a grateful man.

Last spring, the Petersburg, Alaska, native was visiting family in the Houston area when he started feeling ill. After a Tomball VA Outpatient Clinic visit for a wellness check, Haaland was immediately sent for additional testing.

Veteran Carl Haaland (center) presented a unique gift of thanks (seen overhead) to his Houston VA cardiothoracic team including Dr. Gabriel Habib (left) and Cardiology Department Chief Dr. Glenn Levine.

Ultimately, Haaland underwent heart by-pass surgery in late March at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and has been on the road to recovery ever since.

“I wasn’t expecting to have heart surgery anywhere but I sure was glad VA was here when I needed them,” Haaland said. “Back in Alaska, I live more than 1,000 miles from the nearest VA that could have done the surgery. Here in Houston, VA was right there to fix me up.”

Needed some way to show his gratitude

While recuperating from surgery, Haaland decided he needed some way to show his gratitude to his Houston VA cardiothoracic team. An avid woodworker, he borrowed some tools and crafted a beautiful sign that is now prominently displayed in the medical center’s Cardiology Clinic. The sign features a special Abraham Lincoln quote about caring for Veterans as well as the VA seal.

The Houston VA Cardiology staff were thrilled to hang the sign and visit with Haaland during a recent appointment.

“It is most humbling and gratifying to all of us on the cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery care teams that Mr. Haaland is doing so well,” said Cardiology Department Chief Dr. Glenn Levine. “We were incredibly touched by the tremendous amount of time and effort he took to craft such a beautiful work for us.”

Wooden sign of gratitude“Token of thanks to a great group of doctors.”

Haaland will be leaving to go back to his home in Alaska later this summer, but the sign will be prominently displayed for years to come.

“I made this sign as a token of thanks to this great group of doctors,” Haaland said. “I can’t thank them enough for all they have done for me.”

By Maureen Dyman is the communications director at the Michael E. DeBakey VA.

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Published on Jul. 3, 2022

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