South Texas Health System Honors a Longtime Employee as its Veteran of the Year

Thursday, November 16, 2023
Adrian Sanchez accepting his Veteran of the Year award

Adrian Sanchez (middle) holding his 2023 STHS Veteran of the Year plaque

The brave men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces are a fundamental and essential pillar of our country. In 2022, there were 16.2 million veterans in the U.S., making up about 6.2% of the adult population, according to USA Facts. These brave individuals merit recognition and continued care long after their service to their country. South Texas Health System, which employs nearly 100 veterans, is dedicated to celebrating Rio Grande Valley veterans while bringing attention to their continuing healthcare needs, including mental health services.

During an annual salute to Valley veterans for their bravery and service, STHS Behavioral held a special concert and community fair on Saturday, November 4. An event for veterans and their families, the celebration aimed to recognize the valiant sacrifices of our local veterans, while raising awareness of the mental health struggles within the veteran population.

Attendees enjoyed live music performed by the South Texas Ramblers, free hot dogs and refreshments, games and a community fair highlighting the many veterans services available locally with participation from VA Suicide Prevention, B&R Emergency Training and Response Corp., Hidalgo County Veterans Services and Mental Maintenance LLC.

Adrian Sanchez Named STHS Veteran of the Year

The event culminated with the announcement of Adrian Sanchez, an MRI technologist at South Texas Health System Edinburg, as the system’s 2023 STHS Veteran of the Year, an award given to a member of the staff who has proudly served our nation and their local community.

Following four years of service in the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War, Sanchez decided to pursue a career in healthcare. After completing his studies, he began working at STHS Edinburg in April 1988, where he has served the healthcare needs of the community in the radiology department for 35 years.

“Adrian is an integral part of the radiology team and the STHS family. With his time serving in the military and his more than 30 years at STHS, he truly exemplifies hard work and dedication to his community,” said Larry Weinreich, Director of Radiology, STHS Edinburg. “Congratulations to Adrian on this recognition. I couldn’t think of a more deserving individual."

Sanchez, who expressed his gratitude for being named the 2023 STHS Veteran of the Year, hopes more emphasis is placed on helping meet the mental health needs of our veterans, and he wants all veterans to know that they are not forgotten or alone. “I share this honor with all veterans who’ve sacrificed so much in service to their country,” Sanchez said. “Through events like STHS Behavioral’s celebration, I believe veterans will know they’re appreciated and that there is tremendous support for them throughout the Valley, including mental health programs that can help them if they’re struggling with the difficult transition from military to civilian life, a mental health condition or anything of the sort.”

Mental Health Care for Veterans

Serving in the military can come at great cost to one’s mental health, with 11-20% of veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Additionally, suicide rates of military service members and veterans are at an all-time high with deaths by suicide having increased by 25% since 2020. That’s why STHS Behavioral wants the veteran community to know that help is available.

Veterans experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal ideation can receive immediate inpatient support at STHS Behavioral through the Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment (COMPACT) Act of 2020 which went into effect in January. The policy enables veterans in acute suicidal crisis to go to any healthcare facility for emergency healthcare at no cost, whether or not the facility is run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Available services include inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care of up to 90 days.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you know is a veteran in crisis, STHS Behavioral is here to help. To schedule a confidential assessment, call the STHS Behavioral hotline, available 24/7, at 956-388-1300.