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The Honorable Linda Spoonster Schwartz RN, MSN, DrPH FAAN
Have You Ever Served
Educating our Health Providers
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Dr. Schwartz was a member of the USAF Air Force Nurse Corp during the Vietnam War, (1967-1986) serving both on Active Duty and as a Reservist. She retired in 1986 after sustaining injuries in an aircraft accident while serving as a USAF Flight Nurse. She earned a Masters in Nursing from Yale and Doctorate in Public Health from the Yale School of Medicine through the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program. From 1989 to 1998, Dr. Schwartz served as a subject matter expert to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on the issues of Homeless Veterans, Readjustment of Combat Veterans, Women Veteran Issues and Veterans Mental Health Care.
She was nominated by President Barak Obama and unanimously confirmed by the US Senate as Assistant Secretary of Veteran Affairs for Policy and Planning September 16, 2014. In this position, she served as VA’s principal advisor on all matters of policy, interagency liaison activities and strategic planning. Her responsibilities included liaison activities with the National Academy of Science, Co-Chair of VA-DOD Interagency Committee on Complex Care, Co-Chair of the National Quality Council, and Advisor to the Captain James A Lovell Federal Health Care Center. Presently she is a Consultant in Veterans Health at Yale School of Nursing.
Prior to her confirmation, Dr. Schwartz served as Connecticut Commissioner of Veterans Affairs (2003-2014) and was known for her strong advocacy for Homeless Veterans, Veteran Suicide Prevention, and Women Veterans. Commissioner Schwartz successfully acquired over $50 M in Federal Grants to improve the aging facilities at the Connecticut Veterans Home in Rocky Hill including the 2005 construction of the Sgt. John L. Levitow Veterans Health Center. She retired with the rank of Colonel from the Governor’s Military Staff.
She has been elected to the National Board of Directors of the American Nurses Association, Vietnam Veterans of America and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. She is the first woman elected President of the National Association of State Directors of Veteran Affairs. She was admitted to the American Academy of Nursing in 2001 and Chairs their “Have You Ever Served?” initiative which raises health care providers awareness of the increased health risks associated with Military Service. In 1990, she founded the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund a CFC approved non-profit, still active today as the Veterans Support Foundation, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to assist military/veteran programs and support services throughout the Nation.
She has received recognition and several honors most notably: “VA Meritorious Service Award”; National Commendation Medal of Vietnam Veterans of America for “Justice, Integrity, and Meaningful Achievement”; the Legion of Honor Bronze Medallion from the Chapel of the Four Chaplains; Sigma Theta Tau’ International Nursing Society “ARCHON AWARD “for her leadership and research on the human effects of exposure to Agent Orange. She holds the distinction of being inducted into the Veterans Hall of Fame of both her home State of Ohio (2004) and Connecticut (2016). She has been selected by the National Women’s History Committee as one of fifteen 2018 “Nevertheless She Persisted” Honorees for her: “extraordinary persistence and tenacity in fighting all forms of discrimination”.
In 2017, she returned to her roots as an Associate Clinical Professor at Yale University School of Nursing and Special Advisor to the President of Vietnam Veterans of America.