WASHINGTON, D.C. Representative Brian Mast (FL-21), with the support of the entire Florida Congressional delegation, introduced a bill to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in West Palm Beach, Fla. as the “Thomas H. Corey Health Care System of West Palm Beach.”  This legislation will change the name of the VA hospital to honor the life of Thomas H. Corey, a decorated Vietnam War Veteran and a life-long advocate for veteran’s rights.

“Thomas Corey’s life shows no injury was big enough to eclipse his mission to serve others,” Rep. Mast said.  “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."

“We owe Thomas Corey and his loved ones a debt of gratitude. His service continued long after his deployment in the Vietnam War, following him to West Palm Beach, where he became a community leader and was an unwavering advocate for local veterans,” Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick said.  “Naming the West Palm Beach VA medical center in his honor is a small token of appreciation for the countless sacrifices he made."

“Tom has been an example to multitudes of veterans, and all who have contact with him,”  Vietnam Veterans of America National President Jack McManus said.  “He showed us that no matter the hardship, if you have the willpower, you can make changes for the better in people’s lives. He did this every day, year after year, with commitment and compassion.”

All twenty-eight members of the Florida delegation co-sponsored the bill.  Local and national veteran organizations–including the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America–have endorsed the bill.  Their letters can be found here.

Full text of the legislation is available here.


Corey was drafted into the U.S. Army in December 1966 and deployed to Vietnam in May of 1967, where he served as a 1st Cavalry Division squad leader. On January 31, 1968, the first day of the Tet Offensive, Corey was shot in the neck and permanently paralyzed. At the age of 24, he was medically retired from the U.S. Army. For his service, 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.

Overcoming his injury, Corey involved himself in local, regional, and national veteran organizations, including his service as the founding president of West Palm Beach Chapter 25 of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) 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. For his dedication to the organization, Corey became the first recipient of the VA Commendation Medal, the organization’s highest recognition for service.

Corey's lengthy list of accomplishments includes 16 trips he took to Vietnam to obtain the fullest possible account of those still missing in action from the war. His trips focused on locating POWs and MIAs and repatriating their remains. He also promoted awareness and research on the lingering health issues from Agent Orange.