The Department of Veterans Affairs Telehealth Clinic at 785 Russell St. will be to honor Medal of Honor winner Army Maj. William Edward Adams following unanimous consent from the U.S. Senate on Friday.

Photo by Joe Moylan

The Department of Veterans Affairs Telehealth Clinic at 785 Russell St. will be to honor Medal of Honor winner Army Maj. William Edward Adams following unanimous consent from the U.S. Senate on Friday.

Senate passes legislation to rename Craig VA clinic after hometown hero

Clinic to bear the name of Maj. William Edward Adams

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William Adams

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Larry Neu

Quotable

“With health being such an important topic for everything that is happening with the military, having something like this named after my dad is just a real great honor.”

— Col. John Adams, chief of staff for intelligence at Headquarters Marine Corps in the Pentagon, on the passage of federal legislation to rename the Craig VA Telehealth Clinic after his father, the late Maj. William Edward Adams

Legislation to rename the Department of Veterans Affairs Telehealth Clinic in Craig passed with unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate on Sept. 23.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced the legislation in February to honor the late Congressional Medal of Honor winner Army Maj. William Edward Adams.

“Maj. Adams embodied the independent and selfless spirit of the community he called home, and his heroism is an inspiration to us all,” Bennet said in a news release. “Naming a facility that serves northwestern Colorado’s veterans after Maj. Adams is an honor to the clinic, the community and the state.”

Once the bill receives the President’s signature, making it law, the VA clinic located at 785 Russell St., Suite 400 will be ready to bear its new name as the Major William Edward Adams Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic.

Larry Neu, quartermaster of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 in Craig, who has been instrumental in dedicating a portion of Colorado Highway 13 and the local VA clinic after Maj. Adams said the news was a long time coming.

“I’ve been working on this for a long time — first with an aide at (John) Salazar’s office and later with one of Udall’s aides,” Neu said. “I didn’t even hear that it passed.”

Neu said the next step is to organize a dedication ceremony, but could not estimate when that might take place. He did say every effort is going to be made to ensure Maj. Adams’s son, Col. John Adams, can attend.

Col. Adams, chief of staff for intelligence at Headquarters Marine Corps in the Pentagon, said he felt humbled upon hearing the news.

“I think it’s a great honor,” Col. Adams said. “I’m really appreciative of Larry Neu, everyone at the VFW and the people of Craig who have worked so hard to make this thing happen. It’s a great way to remember my dad.”

More importantly, Col. Adams said the clinic will provide quality, longterm health care to military servicemen and women who sacrifice for the country’s freedoms.

“Health is such an important topic here at the Pentagon,” Col. Adams said. “Especially with all the injuries that have been coming out of this war in particular (Iraq and Afganistan) with the traumatic brain injuries that are so much more prevalent.”

Col. Adams said improvised explosive devices, also known as roadside bombs, can hurl multi-ton military vehicles up to 50 yards.

“The vehicle protects the guys that are inside from fatalities,” Col. Adams said. “But, the shockwave takes a toll on the body’s inner organs, of which the brain is most sensitive.”

Concussions are nothing new to the military nor its men and women, Col. Adams said. However, the scope and the number of soldiers experiencing head trauma since the advent of IEDs is like nothing the military has seen before.

“Most people get a concussion and are over it fairly rapidly,” Col. Adams said. “Others experience persistent, chronic, longterm problems.

“With health being such an important topic for everything that is happening with the military, having something like this named after my dad is just a real great honor.”

Maj. Adams, who was raised in Craig, was killed in action in Vietnam in 1971. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his efforts to rescue by helicopter three wounded comrades pinned down during an enemy attack.

Adams was piloting the helicopter, which was shot down during the rescue mission. Everyone on board was killed.

“The telehealth clinic in Craig aims to help Colorado veterans who have given so much for our freedom, and it’s a tribute to Maj. Adams’ brave sacrifice that it will bear his name,” Udall said in a news release. “Veterans advocates and community members in northwestern Colorado have come out strongly for renaming the clinic after their hometown hero, and I was proud to put my full support behind the push to get it done.”

Former Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) introduced similar legislation during the 111th Congress, but it never made it out of the Committee on Veterans Affairs.

According to the release, Udall and Bennet continued the effort because they believe “it’s important to recognize Adams’ conspicuous bravery — as well as the contributions of northwestern Colorado veterans — by honoring one of their own.”

Neu couldn’t agree more.

“I think it’s a great thing,” Neu said. “Being acquainted with the Adams family, I know how much it means to them. That’s who we’re doing it for.”

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