The Wall That Heals

Located in front of the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the ½ scale exact replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. contains over 50,000 names, etched into reflective black panels. It is certainly worth a visit to Altoona to witness this powerful memorial in the middle of the city. This VA Medical Center is the only one with such a wall on its grounds.

According to the Acting Associate Director of the VA Medical Center, Shaun Shenk, The Wall That Heals is tangible evidence to veterans that the war did happen. Along with the resources of the VA Medical Center, it provides an outlet for them to remember, to heal, and to process the traumas. Veterans and their families visit the memorial often with wreaths and flowers.

This ½ scale replica was brought to Blair County in May 1999. Originally, The Wall was a traveling remembrance and was temporarily visiting Altoona. But near the end of its tour, Altoona became its permanent home. A dedicated group of individuals within the community that raised the funds to purchase The Wall so that it could stay on the grounds of the VA Medical Center.

For a couple years now, The Wall has been in a transitional period. Because it was never meant to be permanent, there are several changes that should be made. This includes adding more names and rebuilding it with materials that will guarantee its longevity.

The VA Medical Center does not have the funding to preserve memorials. So, they have actively been engaging with the community to gain monetary resources and transition The Wall to a more permanent status. Their ultimate goal is to update The Wall That Heals and maintain it for generations to come.

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