Johnstown veteran honored at Washington university

A sign at Husky Stadium was lit up in honor of Priscilla “Patti” Taylor at University of Washington. (Photo submitted)

JOHNSTOWN — City resident and Army veteran Priscilla “Patti” Taylor has been a coast-to-coast inspiration through military and medical service.

But in reality, her work has influenced those she has touched worldwide, and last week she received high recognition from her alma mater, the University of Washington.

“It’s my belief that everyone should serve their country,” Taylor said Friday in a phone interview. “Just do a couple years to see what it takes to protect this country. There is a price to pay.”

Last week, the 71-year-old Pennsylvania Avenue resident was in the state of Washington receiving accolades for her legion of service to her nation and to her university.

Taylor received an important recognition from the University of Washington — the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award.

She was honored Nov. 4 at a special, annual Veterans Day Ceremony on campus. She was also in the Seattle/Tacoma area to participate in several events recognizing veterans. She was recently honored when her military service was recognized on a “big screen” at a University of Washington Husky Field football game.

“This whole week I’ve been doing activities,” Taylor said. “I’ve been visiting the nursing school and talking with fellow veterans who have returned from war and returned from college.”

According to Dr. Janet Primomo, associate professor emeritus of the University of Washington/Tacoma’s Nursing & Healthcare Leadership Program, her “hero” Taylor has returned to the Fulton-Montgomery counties area where she grew up after a “storied” military career.

“She was one of my students,” Primomo said Thursday. “She just inspires me.”

Taylor demonstrated an outstanding commitment to service as an Army medic and nurse. She served with the Army Nurse Corps during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s. Her contributions continued even after she retired from the military through her volunteer work with Operation Mend — a program that provides free care to wounded service members and psychological support for wounded service members and gives each a “quilt of valor.”

Taylor graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington/Tacoma; and a master’s degree from the University of Washington/Seattle.

Today, she and her husband, Peter, now reside in Johnstown and enjoy life with their three grown children.

But before her adult odyssey involving military and civilian service to others, Taylor grew up in this area.

She said she is originally from Amsterdam, having graduated from Amsterdam High School in 1964. Today, she has relatives still residing in the area.

According to biographical information provided by the university, Taylor was raised with “the sense of duty, honor, sacrifice, service and selflessness.” Beginning at age five, she started learning lessons taught by her grandmother, aunts and other women from the community as they sat around a quilt frame during the Korean War in the early to mid-1950s.

She was inspired by stories of local heroes, including her cousin, Virginia Sweet, who was a WASP pilot and pioneer female aviator who flew 52 types of military aircraft during World War II and the Korean War.

“Patti’s father, family and community members who courageously answered the country’s call in the time of need became the foundation for her purposeful life journey in the nursing profession,” her biography reads.

As her father recovered from his war wounds at a VA Hospital, little “Patti” Taylor lent a hand in her father’s ward, fetching glasses of water for patients and running other errands.

Taylor joined the ranks just out of high school, entering the Army as a medic in 1964. As a member of the Army Nurse Corps, she served during the Vietnam War era, Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

While stationed at Fort Lewis, Taylor completed her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1993 at UW Tacoma, and then earned her master of nursing degree from the UW Seattle campus in 1996. She was presented with the Outstanding Humanitarian Award from the UW the same year she earned her master’s. Later, she went on to earn a post-master’s nurse certificate from Pacific Lutheran University.

After retiring from the Army in 2002, Taylor started work as a clinical nurse specialist in the Liver Transplant Unit at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. She became a lecturer at the UCLA School of Nursing in 2008 and earned the 2016 DAISY Faculty Award, a national honor given to nursing faculty for excellence in teaching.

During her time at UCLA, Taylor also volunteered as a nurse case manager for Operation Mend. She coordinated care for each veteran during surgery and recovery, and extended her support to their families as well, even planning birthday parties and special activities for their children. She also began a tradition of gifting each Operation Mend veteran with a handmade “quilt of valor,” a practice that continues today even though Taylor has officially retired.

Taylor said she was thrilled to learn she was to receive her university’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award.

“I was overwhelmed and flabergasted,” she said.

She noted that less than 1 percent of the nation’s population is responsible for the protection of the nation. And she said that responsibility doesn’t evaporate once the veteran comes home. Taylor said that being a veteran nowadays is an awesome responsibility that carries with it a dual built-in role.

“Veterans have to take care of veterans and also the community,” she said.

Taylor said she is very proud of her university because it even has a “Department of Veterans,” and truly cares about veterans and their needs.

“Oh my gosh,” she said. “I can’t tell you how the University of Washington has embraced returning veterans.”

She expressed a desire for other colleges to do the same, and said that many veteran issues could be resolved if more civilians cared as much as her university.

Taylor also says education is the key to keeping veterans on track in their lives.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Kerry Minor

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