GALLIPOLIS — Brian Nimmo plans to earn the trust of veterans in the tri-state area, even if he has to do it one vet at a time.
The home-grown director of the VA Medical Center in Huntington, W.Va., was the guest speaker Monday at Gallipolis City Park for the annual gathering of veterans and the community to honor military service members past and present.
Nimmo was appointed to the position in February 2014. As director, he has overall responsibility for the medical, administrative and supportive operations of the main medical center and its clinics in Prestonsburg, Ky., Charleston and Lenore, W.Va., and the Gallipolis facility.
“The veterans of this area, and all those served by the Huntington VA Medical Center, mean a lot to me,” he said. “I fully understand that for many here today — and it is for me, as well — Memorial Day is very personal. I can’t tell you how honored I am to provide remarks on such an important and solemn day. While attitudes and opinions throughout our country vary and are as diverse as any nation on earth, today our nation joins in unison to memorialize those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.”
Prior to his appointment in Huntington, Nimmo served for six years as associate director of the VA Medical Center in Beckley, W.Va. He was also the safety manager and facilities management service line chief in Beckley.
A native of Huntington and a graduate of Marshall University, Nimmo is a Persian Gulf War veteran who served as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy from 1987 to 1995, specializing in aviation medicine and aerospace physiology.
He said his military experience makes Memorial Day personal for him.
“On this day I cannot escape, nor do I want to, thinking about those that I knew when I served in the U.S. Navy who never came home,” he said. “I think about everything that I have enjoyed that they missed out on; getting a welcome at the airport when I came back from the Persian Gulf; celebrating with my family when I finished graduate school at Marshall; sitting with my father and my grandfather at football games; meeting and marrying my wife; and the greatest honor of all, becoming a father myself.
“When I reflect on this, it humbles me and makes me feel strongly about how appropriate it is that we take this day to honor them.”
Nimmo rhetorically asked the crowd why veterans gave “freely of their blood” and their lives to service in the military.
“It was not to seek personal gain or a path to fame, that’s for sure,” he said. “Their country called and they answered.”
Nimmo said the crowd need not look any further than the assembly in Gallipolis City Park as a true demonstration of freedom.
“The rights that we take for granted are not enjoyed by most other people on earth,” he said. “The assembly we are having right now is not possible in many parts of our world.”
Nimmo said veterans should be honored for their service in more ways than one, particularly when it comes to providing timely services they’ve earned.
“Long after the guns fall silent, we must continue to pay freedom’s cost. We’ve won nothing unless we honor veterans in ceremony and with the tangible care benefits they’ve earned through their service and their sacrifice,” he said. “Honoring veterans is what we try to accomplish at our VA Medical Center.
“We are going to earn your trust, even if we have to do it one veteran at a time.”
Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.