Veterans Affairs Physician Assistant Association

Requiescant In Pacem

This page is dedicated to all our fallen brother and sister PAs who have gone on to Eternal Rest. For those who wish to have their fellow VAPAA Physician Assistants listed here, please contact the President. Thank you and may they rest in peace!


VAPAA is very sad to report the passing of Robert (Bob) Kunath who served as VAPAA President from 2008 to 2011.

During Bob's tenure as President, VAPAA accomplished a great deal including the long desired full-time Director of PA Services. After many years of lobbying on Capitol Hill the long-awaited Physician Assistant representation at Central Office was achieved.  

Bob took over as President during difficult times for VAPAA with the loss of a standing President of the organization and the 2008 annual conference in jeopardy.  Bob reorganized the organization, oversaw the rewrite of the bylaws and re-established the VAPAA Store.  Additionally, Bob and his Legislative Committee took on the next big challenges for VA PAs; Pay Disparity, Recruitment and Retention.  Thanks to his and many other’s efforts we are seeing the fruits of the hard labor VAPAA puts forth for VA PAs. 

Bob was also the Clinical Coordinator of Geriatrics and Extended Care at the Lebanon, PA VAMC prior to his retirement and served as VAPAA Vice President for several years prior to his term as VAPAA President.

Bob continued to support VAPAA after retiring from the VA.

I think Bob would be proud of his accomplishments paving the way forward for VA PAs and caring for Veterans.  

Bob Kunath will be missed! 



1954 - 2009

Skip passed away peacefully the morning of 28 April 2009 at a hospice care center in Allen, TX after a brief battle with cancer.

For those who did not know him, he was the quintessential southern gentleman. He had a calm demeanor, never knew him to raise his voice, and was always willing to help others. His selfless dedication to his family, patients, and profession was unparalleled. Skip was employed at the Biloxi VA for many years before transferring to the Dallas VA just a few months before his death.

Skip was a long time member of the VA Physician Assistant Association and served as President from 2001 to 2004. He was also active in VAPAA legislative activities and traveled to Washington DC to lobby Congress on PA issues. Skip, along with Murl Dotson, lead the successful effort to obtain PA recognition and authority for PA practice in the state of Mississippi. Skip was a great friend to many and will be missed.

Some of you know that Skip had custody of his brother who had Downs Syndrome and cared for him for years. Skip indicated before his death that he would like those who wish to express their condolences to make donations to their local Downs Syndrome or mental retardation foundations in lieu of flowers.

The family is preparing an obituary for publication and I will pass it along when I receive it.

One of our fellow PAs (Mary Ellen Kiernan) sent me information about Downs Syndrome:

"{The National Down Syndrome Society} offers many educational lectures. Not long ago I attended
New Frontiers of Down Syndrome Research with Roger Reeves, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Physiology and Institute for Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

"The information researchers are learning about the different genes helps with the investigations of typical children with heart defects, & Alzheimer's. I learned that individuals with DS have a lower incidence of developing solid tumors.

"The research involved the radiation of mice to cause their genes to mimic those of an individual with DS..the proteins the gene or there..and how exciting the information was.


On Monday, February 11th 2008 at 4 pm
We all lost a dear friend and colleague

America lost a hero today.
A loving and devoted wife lost a loving and devoted husband.
Two children lost the “world’s greatest father”.
The profession lost one of its founding fathers.
Many veteran patients lost a compassionate caregiver.
God lost a solider in his earthly army for goodness.
This man was indeed an enigma:

 He was the toughest, yet gentlest soul I have ever met.
- He railed against injustice, yet paused to pick up a fallen fighter.
- He could become quiet and thoughtful, yet passionate beyond words.

There is nobody who ever met him who could ever forget him.
He was the bedrock upon which the VAPAA and PAs in the VA were built.
He was a marine’s marine; retreat and withdraw were not in his vocabulary.
He could be the first to take the high and mighty down a notch and yet the first to pick-up the down and out.

He remembered and lived the adage: “never forget from whence you came.”
He was so many things to so many people and he did every role like it was his ONLY
job. Yet, he would always pause to pull someone slower along with him.

He was a great man, yet he never cast a shadow because he was never full of himself.
He could (and often did) on your behalf squeeze a penny until it turned into a dime.
He could have been anything, gone anywhere, achieved any fame he sought; and yet he was humble and was happy to be our Treasurer and dedicated servant.

As I have said, he was many things to many people (all of them good).
But, MOST OF ALL – To me and I know to many of you, he was simply:


The earthly world has lost a kind, gentle and loving spirit. The time we had with him was a blessing to us all and this world will be a much darker and lonelier place without him.

But, I guess God needed somebody to help keep the books straight and he was called home today, February 11th, 2008. God’s Corps has gained a great spirit and while we grieve this loss of our loving friend, in his humble and so understated way he would simply say to us all:


Semper Fi, AJ, you will live on in our hearts and our organization forever.


Frank Kett was a former Air Force medic and a founding member of VAPAA. He was the secretary and newsletter editor for the VAPAA until his untimely death in February 1993. He was, in fact, working late at night on his computer and emailing our own Bob Eshleman, when his light was snuffed out prematurely as a victim of a murder-suicide.

We thank him for many years of dedication to the organization.He will be remembered fondly by those of us who knew him.

Frank Kett - d. 1993

ALFRED D. THORMAN, PA-C       1948 - 2000

Al Thorman, PA-C, a graduate of Cleveland Clinic, worked in civilian practice in Florida and then at Mountain Home (TN) VA and finally here in VA Gainesville, Florida for many years, was president of the Florida academy of PAs inj 1981-82 and again in 1985-86. He was a member of VAPA, moved to Texas, and past away July 26, 2000 of an apparent cardiac arrest at the age of 52 while playing tennis as the Captain of his team. - Phil Irwin

ROBERT SCULLY, PA-C 1935 - 1983

Of note is that there is also a Bob Scully Award presented by the Society of Army PAs for Outstanding Service to the Society.

Eddie Jay Thomas - 2002

PO Box 355
Newport, RI 02840

VAPAA is a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization. 

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