Nurses Week: Honoring those who serve California’s veterans

by Ron Brand, Information Officer, California Veterans Home — West Los Angeles

In honor of Nurses Week, May 6-12, we shine the spotlight on two of CalVet’s extraordinary nurses and we salute all nurses who serve veterans in the Golden State.

In 2004, Dubraka “Dee” Labovic packed her things and traveled from Serbia to Tennessee as a high school exchange student. After graduation, she did not return home, but instead decided to move to California to study business at Santa Monica College. Working at night and attending school during the day taught her that business was not in her future. She wanted to help people. So she changed schools, moving to West Los Angeles College, where she began her studies to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). In 2007, she completed that goal.  

Dee Angelina

From left: Angelina Joung Lee, Grace Li, and Dubravka  Dee Labovic at the West Los Angeles Veterans Home.

Dee finishes what she starts. After becoming a CNA, she continued her education. If she was going to be a nurse, she wanted to be a Registered Nurse (RN). While working at the clinic at UCLA, she attended Mt. Saint Mary’s College Nursing School. After attaining her RN degree, she joined the registry and found her way to the Veterans Home of California — West Los Angeles.

Not a place to overlook talent, the veterans home hired Dee fulltime and she was soon managing the home’s Residential Nursing Facility. While working at the home, she obtained an RCFE license, finished her master’s degree in nursing, was promoted to Supervising Registered Nurse, while somehow managing to get married as well.

Her world experience now serves others. Dee travels back to her alma mater, West LA College, to share her story with graduating CNAs. She wants them to know they have only self-imposed limits.

Across the world in Korea, Joung “Angelina” Mi Lee, daughter of a lifetime South Korean Navy civil servant, decided to attend a nursing college in 2000. She completed her associate’s degree in 2006 and became an RN. A year later, she immigrated to California with her husband. Here, she attended West Coast University and completed her bachelor’s degree in nursing. While she continued to attend school, Angelina began working in private skilled nursing care and in 2011 took on the role of Director of Nursing. Meanwhile, she was raising her family of two daughters, Ashley and Jazmine.

At Azusa Pacific University, Angelina completed her master’s degree in nursing and became a Nurse Practitioner. Shortly afterwards, in July 2017, she joined the staff at the Veterans Home of California – West Los Angeles, where she now serves as one of the Supervising Registered Nurses.

Is she finished? No. Angelina’s goal is to acquire her doctorate so that she can gain the independence it takes to offer assistance on medical missions. She considers nursing a blessing, and a great opportunity to give back. Limits never crossed Angelina’s mind.

So what do two dynamic and accomplished nurses do for an encore?  How about two amazing women creating twin offspring at the same time? Dee and Angelina are well on their way to being new mothers and both are having twins. Amazing nurses and soon-to-be extraordinary mothers, delivering only one month apart. Nurses Week and Mother’s Day combine to a glorious occasion for our SRNs and for those of us who are blessed to be part of their truly global world.


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