Most hospitals celebrate its first newborn at the beginning of the year. The Amarillo VA Health Care System does not have a maternity ward but that didn’t stop the director of the system from wanting to celebrate a key moment in one Veteran’s life.

Enter baby Camila, the daughter of Army Veteran and Lubbock-area resident Debbie Hernandez. Camila was born Jan. 19, 2021, at 7 lbs. 1 oz., and was the first newborn of the year for the Amarillo VA Women’s Veteran program.

Amarillo VA did not get to recognize Hernandez and her newborn baby right away. Instead, they were able to recognize her at the Lubbock VA clinic Feb. 25 in a small recognition ceremony honoring Hernandez and Camila.

Pictured above, Amarillo VA staff members gather as they celebrate Hernandez and daughter Camila.

“Shine some light on our incredible women Veterans”

“I believe it is so important to highlight our Women Veterans and the programs available to them for their service to our Nation,” said Dr. Rodney Gonzalez. Gonzalez is the Amarillo VA director. “By celebrating the first newborn each year, I hope that we can shine some light on our incredible women Veterans and be a part of an important moment in their lives.”

The personal touch that VA provides is something Hernandez said was important to her. Originally, she was nervous about moving from a larger VA facility in Central Texas to the Lubbock VA Clinic. But she said the initial fears were unfounded, since the Lubbock VA and the Women’s Health program has exceeded all her expectations.

Army Veteran Debbie Hernandez holds her daughter Camila during a celebration held for the first newborn of the year.

“Thankfully we have incredible community partners who want to help our Veterans. We were able to provide Debbie and her beautiful daughter a great start with the generous support of donated items from our community,” said Gonzalez.

VA great option for women Veterans’ health care

For Women Veteran program manager, Melissa Zinn, making these small personal touches is important.

“As a Navy Veteran, I understand some of the unique challenges women health care can present,” Zinn said. “That’s why it’s critical to be more personable and get out in our women Veteran community so they know not only is the VA an option, it’s a great option for their health care.”

Plans for a drive-through baby shower are already in the works for other expecting Veteran moms.

Women are the fastest growing group within the Veteran population and VA offers a full range of services for women Veterans. These include providing Maternity Care Coordinators for those women Veterans looking to start or expand their families.

Maternity Care Coordinators support women Veterans through every stage of the pregnancy.

For eligible women Veterans, VA covers full maternity care from the time of the first positive pregnancy test through delivery and follow-up appointments, the first seven days of newborn’s care, and so much more.

For more information about women Veteran health care services with VA, please visit Women Veterans Health Care Home (

Joel Mease is a public affairs office for the Amarillo VA Health Care System.

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Published on Mar. 6, 2021

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