Valerija Raulinaitis
A smiling white woman with a bouffant blond hairstyle, wearing glasses and a dark top
Valerija B. Raulinaitis, from a 1970 publication
Valerija Birute Berzinskas

March 5, 1915
DiedFebruary 26, 2004 (aged 88)
Occupation(s)Physician, hospital administrator

Valerija Birute Raulinaitis (March 5, 1915 – February 26, 2004) was a Lithuanian-American physician. In 1971, she became the first woman appointed to head a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital.

Early life and education

Valerija Birute Berzinskas was born in Riga and raised in Lithuania,[1] the daughter of Victor Berzinskas and Maria Narkeviciute. She earned her medical degree at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas.[2][3][4] In the United States, she pursued further training in psychiatry at the Downey Veterans Administration Hospital in Chicago.


Raulinaitis practiced medicine in Lithuania from 1938 to 1944, until she fled Lithuania with her husband and daughter. She worked as a doctor in a displaced persons camp in Germany from 1944 to 1949, then moved to the United States.[2]

In the United States, Raulinaitis was a laboratory technician and pediatrician at Harper Hospital in Detroit,[1] and as a psychiatrist at Woodward State Hospital in Iowa.[3] She became a psychiatrist at the Downey VA Hospital in 1957, and in 1960 became head of the women's neuropsychiatric program at Downey. She became chief of staff at Downey in 1962,[5] the first woman to hold that role at an American VA hospital.[6][7]

In 1971, Raulinaitis was appointed director of the Pittsburgh (Leech Farm Road) VA hospital,[8] becoming the first woman to head a VA hospital.[2][9][10] In 1973, she became director of the American Lake Veterans Hospital in Tacoma, Washington.[3]

Five women and President Richard Nixon seated in an informal circle in front of a fireplace
President Richard Nixon meeting with Vicki Keller, Jayne Baker Spain, Barbara Franklin, Sallyanne Payton, and Valerija Raulinaitis in 1971


Raulinaitis was one of the six recipients of the Federal Woman's Award in 1970,[11][12] and attended a reception with the other recipients in the Oval Office in 1971.[13] Also in 1970, she was elected as a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.


Personal life

Valerija Berzinskas married American-born economist Viktoras Raulinaitis. They had a daughter, Ruta, born in 1943.[7] The retired to California together. Her husband died in 1986, and she died in 2004, at the age of 88.[15]


  1. ^ a b Bushnell, Henry (1963-12-05). "Psychaitrist is Guided by Common Sense". Chicago Tribune. p. 128. Retrieved 2023-04-22 – via
  2. ^ a b c "1st women VA director in U.S.: 'knew struggles of war years'". Republican and Herald. 1971-11-06. p. 10. Retrieved 2023-04-22 – via
  3. ^ a b c "Woman heads VA hospital here". The News Tribune. 1973-09-18. p. 8. Retrieved 2023-04-22 – via
  4. ^ "Dr. Raulinaitis is AAUW speaker". The News Tribune. 1974-05-13. p. 10. Retrieved 2023-04-22 – via
  5. ^ "Honor Women in VA Work". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL. November 16, 1963. p. 13. Retrieved October 8, 2023 – via Open access icon
  6. ^ "Appointments". JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 182 (5): 62. 1962-11-03. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050440114048. ISSN 0098-7484.
  7. ^ a b Kleiman, Carol (1971-03-07). "Look Who's the Chief of Staff". Chicago Tribune. p. 130. Retrieved 2023-04-22 – via
  8. ^ Heimbuecher, Ruth (April 27, 1973). "Music Performs Some 'Small Miracles'". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, PA. p. 33. Retrieved October 7, 2023 – via Open access icon
  9. ^ Engels, Mary (November 8, 1971). "President's Talent Scout Taps Women for Top Jobs". Daily News. New York, NY. p. 122. Retrieved October 9, 2023 – via Open access icon
  10. ^ "Nixon Names 4 Women to Top Positions". Press Democrat. April 30, 1971. p. 14. Retrieved April 22, 2023 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  11. ^ Jones, Dorothy B. (April–June 1970). "The Tenth Annual Federal Woman's Award". Civil Service Journal. 10: 25.
  12. ^ "Federal Woman's Award Winners Cry Discrimination". Times-Advocate. 1970-03-06. p. 18. Retrieved 2023-04-22 – via
  13. ^ "Raulinaitis, Valerija B." Richard Nixon Museum and Library. Retrieved 2023-04-22.
  14. ^ Hoover, Keith K.; Raulinaitis, V.B.; Spaner, Fred E. (January 1965). "Therapeutic Democracy: Group Process as a Corrective Emotional Experience". International Journal of Social Psychiatry. 11 (1): 26–31. doi:10.1177/002076406501100104. ISSN 0020-7640. PMID 14283561. S2CID 44743344.
  15. ^ US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration. " | Veterans Affairs". Women Veterans Health Care. Retrieved 2023-04-22.