Martin Longoria loves to answer questions and help his fellow Veterans, so much so that he made it his job.

Longoria is a patient advocate who helps up to 15 Veterans a day at VA’s Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Corpus Christi, Texas. He takes their complaints or compliments, answers their questions, and gets them the help or access to the benefits they need.

Patient advocate Martin Longoria

“I always like to help the Veteran any way I can, whatever it may be,” he said.

A career of serving

Longoria came to VA’s Office of Patient Advocacy after 28 years of service in the Army.

In the military, he noticed his fellow service men and women had many questions about transitioning to civilian life, questions that often went unanswered.

A former military officer, he felt a duty to help Veterans. Being a patient advocate means he continues serving Veterans and his community. It starts with answering their questions.

“There’s questions to everything and there’s somebody out there that has that answer,” he said. “You just have to know where to send the Veteran.”

Advocating for Veterans means a lot to Longoria but it’s not always the easiest job. Patients come to him with concerns, complaints, and compliments about their health care. He explains that the hardest part of the job “Is trying to understand what the Veteran is asking.”

As a Veteran, Longoria can more effectively communicate with and relate to the patients he serves daily, especially the younger Veterans.

“Knowing that I am a Veteran, and they are a Veteran, the connection is a lot easier, and it makes it a lot smoother for us,” he said.

“Hey, I helped this Veteran.”

The patient advocate role is a key part of the VA health care system. Longoria says qualities of patient advocates include being trustworthy, kind, caring, and most of all, great listeners.

“The biggest thing is listening. Having that open ear,” Longoria said.

Longoria and his supervisor, Hugo Martinez, have enjoyed working together for many years. Martinez said that Longoria is the ultimate patient advocate.

“He brings the passion to do what is right by Veterans and by our staff as well,” Martinez says. “He brings the core values of the Army and the core values that we embody in VA.”

The job is challenging but rewarding for Longoria. He loves knowing he is making a difference and improving Veterans’ lives every day.

“It’s always a great feeling knowing that ‘Hey, I helped this Veteran.’”

By Matt Sabo is manager for Strategic Communications at Aptive Resources

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Published on Jul. 20, 2022

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