Victoria Brahm, who earned her master’s degree from UWM’s College of Nursing, recently was honored with the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Awards medal as 2019 Federal Employee of the Year.
Sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service and often called the Oscars of government service, the Sammie awards are a highly respected honor with a rigorous selection process that highlights excellence in federal service.
Brahm stepped into the middle of a major crisis at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center in central Wisconsin in 2015. When she became Tomah’s acting medical center director in 2015, the facility was in the middle of federal investigations and a media firestorm. A Marine veteran being cared for through the center had died of a toxic drug mixture, and overprescription of opioids had earned the facility the nickname of “Candy Land.” Two senior leaders had been fired, two others had left, and employee turnover was high.
The award citation noted that in the four years since she became leader of the 246-bed hospital and its clinics – she became permanent director in 2017 – she’s improved patient care, restored employee morale and put in place a state-of-the-art pain management program and partnered with providers throughout the region to enhance the quality and range of care for veterans.