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Women Making History: Area physician ‘gives back’ to rural community

By Verda L. Parker | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | March 15, 2016

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March is Women’s History Month, a nationally observed event and an occasion to honor women in our past and current history who have had a tremendous impact on shaping the society in which we live today.

The month also provides an opportunity to highlight women aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base, who are leaving their mark on history, paving the way for the next generation.

One woman in the spotlight is Dr. Linda Walden, family physician/primary care provider, Carl Vinson VA Medical Center Dublin’s Outpatient Clinic, aboard MCLB Albany.

Walden discussed her roots and her desire to ‘give back’ to her rural community, the journey she has traveled, which brought her to MCLB Albany, and her passion for mentoring youth.

“I just thank God that he has given me the vision to want to come back to my family roots in southwest Georgia,” Walden said. “I was born in New York and my parents lived there 30 years, (before) we moved back here to Grady County, outside of Cairo, (Georgia).

“There were no Black doctors there,” she continued. “I felt there was a need and I (wanted) to be there to make a difference; to help people who needed quality healthcare. So, I think that I’ve done a pretty good job of providing that for so many people, who are in rural South Georgia; to so many people who were underserved and for many people who lived (there).

“I could have gone anywhere I wanted in the country,” Walden added. “But that’s where I chose, and I think I’ve made a positive difference and impact. I’ve had the fewest patients in that area to get sick or go to the hospital.  I’ve received numerous awards – one for the Best Rural Practice in South Georgia, several years ago, by the Georgia Rural Health Association.

“What I pride myself on is being able to help somebody else and inspiring young people to be the best that they can be,” Walden noted.

“I started the Jackie Robinson Cairo Memorial Institute, because Jackie is a cousin of mine," She continued. "And, nothing had ever been done to honor him when I came back to Cairo in 1996. I couldn’t believe that nothing had been done to honor this great American icon who broke the color barrier in major league baseball -- the very first African American."

Along with her many attributes, Walden, who credits much of her success to her late aunt, Willie J. Walden, is currently president of the Georgia State Medical Association; she was the first female Chief of Staff at Grady General Hospital in Cairo, Georgia; she has received numerous honors and awards for her humanitarian efforts to improve her community, including Grady County's 2013 Remarkable Women; the Drum Major for Justice and Peace Award; Florida A & M University’s Living Legends Award, Physician of the Year, by the National Medical Association.

In addition to Walden’s private medical practice being awarded Most Outstanding Rural Practice in Georgia, by the Georgia Rural Health Association, she has also received the National Jefferson Award in Washington D.C., the highest U.S. honor for Volunteerism. She was appointed by former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes and served on the Composite Board of Medical Examiners and was appointed to Mercer University School of Medicine Admissions Committee.

Walden is founder/past president of Grady County’s Habitat for Humanity, Inc.; founder and past president of the Griffin-Jordan Medical Society and Minority Association of Pre-Med Students at Albany State University, where she mentors students for entrance and admission into medical school.  

Walden said she chose to pursue applying her professional skills at the VA Clinic to honor her father, who was a veteran. She does, however, admit that her true “passion” is mentoring youth, particularly those attending college with an interest in the medical field or related disciplines.

“The greatest investment one can make is in the lives of our youth, for they are our future,” she concluded.  “We must increase the number of African-American youth to become physicians, because all of our lives matter.”

Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society. The United States has observed it annually throughout the month of March since 1987, according to the website: http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/womens-history-month.
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