2012 Gold Nugget Recipient: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D.
Alfonso Batres, Ph.D. - Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, 1975
Dr. Alfonso R. Batres' pursuit of his undergraduate degree was temporarily interrupted when he joined the Army and fought in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. Yet this decision to serve his country would be the impetus and inspiration to earn his bachelor's degree in psychology from UTEP in 1975.
"UTEP provided me with a solid academic foundation at a time when I was personally struggling with my readjustment back to civilian life from Vietnam," he said. "I wanted to help my fellow veterans with their readjustment needs and found that psychology was the right choice."
In 1978, Dr. Batres received his Master’s of Social Work from the University of Louisville and earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1984. He became the Chief Officer of the Readjustment Counseling Center, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in 1994. Under his resolute leadership, the quantity and quality of services provided through community-based Vet Centers nationwide were expanded and improved to meet the unique needs of an ever-growing number of combat veterans and their families. These services include specialized counseling, medical and benefit referrals, and job assistance. "Dr. Batres has led the program to record levels of service provision over many years," said Dr. Robert Petzel, the VA Undersecretary for Health.
"The opportunity to serve veterans and their families as a civil servant through the Vet Center program has been a dream realized and an honor," Batres told the Partnership for Public Service when awarded the 2011 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal. The career medal recognizes the significant accomplishments of a federal employee throughout a lifetime of achievements in public service and is the highest award bestowed on a civil servant outside the government.
He other most recent awards include: the Presidential Distinguished Service Rank Award for Senior Executives, the highest award that can be achieved within civil service; the Presidential Meritorious Service Rank Award, a Presidential Citation for saving veterans lives; and, many others.
"I love working with and for veterans," he said, "and have been blessed with a job that I love."
He has also held various academic appointments and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Medical and Clinical Psychology with the F. Edward Herbert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.