Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System
Veteran’s Wallet Discovered During Construction
BILOXI, Miss. – A Biloxi Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center former Community Living Center (CLC) Veteran’s wallet was returned to his family Dec. 11 after being discovered in a wall during a construction project at the facility.
Now deceased Veteran and former resident at the Biloxi VA Medical Center’s CLC Veteran Joe Pittman’s wallet was returned to his daughter Vicki Ladner by Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (GCVHCS) Chief of Community and Public Affairs Vernon Stewart at the facility.
“Being able to return these personal possessions to a family is quite a personal moment,” Stewart said. “Some of the photos in this wallet are irreplaceable and being able to provide this Veteran’s family with these items is at the core of what we at the GCVHCS are about – taking care of Veterans and their families.”
Reported missing in February 2003, Pittman’s wallet was discovered in a wall by workers during a renovation project and was delivered to Chris LeVelle, the GCVHCS resident engineer. LeVelle examined the wallet, determining from its contents that Pittman was the owner. Written on the back of a photo was the name ‘Anastasia Ladner,’ so LeVelle began searching for her in hopes of returning the wallet.
He ultimately discovered a local telephone number, and spoke with Vicki Ladner, Anastasia Ladner’s mother and Pittman’s daughter.
LeVelle then turned the wallet over to GCVHCS Privacy Officer Melanie Lane, who initiated an investigation and discovered that a VA Police Services report had been filed in February 2003, describing a solid black wallet with a zipper containing social security and insurance cards and photos of family members. Although numerous efforts to find the wallet were conducted, the wallet remained missing.
Lane, through conversations with Vicki Ladner, learned that Pittman tended to hide his personal belongings, possibly accounting for the wallet being placed inside a wall. Upon receipt of the wallet, Vicki Ladner was surprised to discover a social security card belonging to her grandmother, numerous photos of relatives and an identification card indicating her father had at one time worked for the Jackson County Sherriff’s Office (Mississippi).
“This wallet remained hidden in a wall for over seventeen years and contained some of Pittman’s cherished possessions,” Lane said. “Being able to provide these items to this Veteran’s family – especially during this holiday season – is a wonderful feeling, and I’m honored to have been part of this Veteran’s ongoing legacy.”
The Biloxi VA Medical Center and the Mobile, Pensacola, Eglin and Panama City VA Clinics are all part of the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System (GCVHCS) which is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provide a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 70,000 Veterans.