The Maui News
May 7, 2107
VA psychologist McNamara assisted servicemembers to face post-combat challenges.
Longtime Veterans Affairs psychologist Dr. Kathleen McNamara retired at the end of March after 27 years of helping local veterans and their families cope with post-combat challenges. -- The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photoVietnam veteran Bo Mahoe likes to say that “it was a McNamara that got me into war, and a McNamara helped me get out.”
Fifty years ago, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara pushed for America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. In its aftermath, Veterans Affairs psychologist Dr. Kathleen McNamara has helped Mahoe and countless other Maui County veterans face the post-combat challenges of coming home.
McNamara, 67, retired at the end of March after 27 years of service to Hawaii’s veterans.
“She’s one who’s given more than anybody I know to help our veterans, and yet she feels she’s the one who’s benefited,” said Dr. Richard MacDonald, rehab counselor with Veterans Affairs on Maui. “I think that’s part of why she’s so effective because she keeps that humility and just focuses in on what the veterans need in every way, shape or form.”
McNamara knew early on in her life the meaning of honoring veterans. Her father was an airplane mechanic in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and when he saw how Vietnam veterans were treated upon their return home, he got upset.
In Hawaii, she worked with many Vietnam veterans who were just starting to come to terms with post-traumatic stress disorder. Back when she was pursuing her doctorate at Ohio University in 1975, “PTSD didn’t exist as a specialty.” It left a lot of Vietnam veterans in limbo, as no one recognized the pain they brought home.
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