Long Beach VA Hospital Renamed in Honor of Fallen Soldier
Washington, Mar 24, 2010 - Today, I proudly honored an American patriot for his service and sacrifice to this country. Major Charles Robert Soltes of Irvine, California, the son of Col. Soltes (Retired), had a distinguished career in the United States Army, as well as in the city of Irvine. It was in Irvine where he first entered private practice as an optometrist and set down his roots to raise a family. Dr. Soltes subsequently joined the Army Reserve, and was deployed to Iraq in 2004. He worked tirelessly as a Public Health Officer in the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion, building and upgrading hospitals for the Iraqi people. On his way back from a hospital visit, his convoy was attacked by an improvised explosive device, and Major Soltes was killed on October 13, 2004. He was the first Army Optometrist ever killed in action while on active duty.
As such, it seems fitting that we honor him and his family by naming the soon-to-be completed Veterans Affairs’ Blind Rehabilitation Center in Long Beach, California, in his honor—a facility that, once completed, will work to deliver the same compassion and care that Dr. Soltes dedicated his career to. This new 24-bed inpatient/outpatient facility, expected to be completed this year, will be the first purpose-built Blind Rehabilitation Center in the National VA Medical Center system, and is located in my district.
Dr. Soltes was a graduate of the New England College of Optometry. He entered the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps in 1994, and treated service members here in the U.S., as well as abroad. He was well-liked and respected by his colleagues. One of his superiors, Col. Adams, whom he met while going through Officer Basic Training at Fort Sam Houston, TX, said, “He was a tremendous young man. He volunteered to go into Civil Affairs, and every e-mail he sent was upbeat and positive, and he felt he was making a real difference in the lives of the Iraqi people.”
Today, by naming this new facility after him, we ensure that Major Soltes’ spirit lives on. Every time a patient’s quality of life is improved, Major Soltes’ dedication to service will be continued.
To Major Soltes and his family, we salute you with this Act of Congress to forever remember the sacrifice you gave.
Whether giving their most vibrant and youthful years to the service of this country, or laying down their lives so that we and our children can sleep safely at night, we must remember that all gave some, and some, like Major Soltes, gave all.