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Mast leads state's delegation to rename VA Medical Center after Thomas H. Corey

He was a veterans' rights advocate after being paralyzed during Vietnam War
Thomas H. Corey died on June 10, 2022. He was 77..png
Posted at 9:50 PM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-13 21:50:43-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., introduced a bill in the U.S. House to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical center in West Palm Beach as the Thomas H. Corey Health Care System of West Palm Beach.

All 28 members of the Florida delegation co-sponsored the bill.

Corey, of Jupiter, died on June 10, 2022. He was 77.

Corey was a decorated Vietnam War Veteran and a life-long advocate for veterans' rights.

“Thomas Corey’s life shows no injury was big enough to eclipse his mission to serve others,” Mast, who represents Florida's 21st District, said in a news release. “Renaming the VA Medical Center after Thomas is a recognition he deserves for his tireless work to locate the remains of his brothers-in-arm left behind in the jungles of Vietnam and his passionate advocacy for veterans in our community.”

Local and national veteran organizations–including the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America–have endorsed the bill.

Corey was drafted into the U.S. Army in December 1966 and deployed to Vietnam in May 1967, where he served as a 1st Cavalry Division squad leader.

On Jan. 31, 1968, the first day of the Tet Offensive, Corey was shot in the neck and permanently paralyzed as a quadriplegic.

At 24, he was medically retired from the U.S. Army. He was awarded with a Bronze Star Medal with V device for Valor, two Purple Hearts, an Air Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation, a Valorous Unit Citation, a Republic Vietnam Gallantry Cross and a Combat Infantry Badge.

Corey became involved in local, regional and national veteran organizations, including the founding president of West Palm Beach Chapter 25 of the Vietnam Veterans of America in 1981, later renamed the Thomas H. Corey Chapter 25 in his honor.

In 2001, he was elected president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, where he served two terms until 2005. Corey became the first recipient of the VA Commendation Medal, the organization’s highest recognition for service.

The hospital, which is on 7305 N. Military Trail, opened in 1995. It has 254 beds with 2,675 employees and 339 volunteers.