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Veterans Mourn the Passing of Dr. Michael DeBakey
Date:7/12/2008

Peake: Pioneer Improved Health Care for Military, Vets, All Americans

WASHINGTON, July 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake joined with national leaders in offering condolences to the family and colleagues of Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, an internationally acclaimed medical pioneer with long ties to the Department of Veterans Affairs. DeBakey, 99, died Friday in Houston.

"Dr. DeBakey's skills as a surgeon and manager, along with his deep commitment to military personnel and veterans, has created a legacy of service that will never be equaled," Peake said. "He has touched countless lives, and, more importantly, he has saved and enriched countless lives."

A pioneer in the field of cardiac surgery, DeBakey is credited with developing mobile Army surgical hospitals during World War II, which became the foundation for bringing specialized medical care closer to troops on the battlefield and, thereby, dramatically reducing combat deaths.

In the late 1940s, he was instrumental in establishing the VA facility in his hometown of Houston as one of the premier medical facilities in the country. In December 2003, President Bush signed into law a measure naming VA's Houston medical center after DeBakey.

This April, VA named a conference room in the Department's headquarters after DeBakey and Congress awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation's highest awards for civilian service.

"At VA, we are honored to count Dr. DeBakey as one of our own," Peake said. "His medical skill and his boundless compassion will be missed by colleagues, patients, and veterans everywhere."


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SOURCE Department of Veterans Affairs
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