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Honoring those who served: Penn State Health, College of Medicine salute veterans

Veterans Day is Thursday, Nov. 11, a day to remember and honor those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine value the contributions of all their military and veteran employees, learners and patients.

“Today, we express our gratitude to military veterans, a special group of people committed to protecting our nation and freedom,” said Steve Massini, Penn State Health CEO. “To our coworkers, patients and their family members who have provided selfless service to our country, thank you for your sacrifice and the example you set for us all.”

Penn State Health was named a “Best for Vets” employer by Military Times this month. The health system has 465 employees who are protected veterans. To support these veterans and military service personnel, the organization has established a military and veteran business and employee resource group for the Dauphin County region and is establishing similar groups for the West Shore, Berks and Lancaster regions. The College of Medicine is establishing a similar group for its employees.

The goals of these employee-led groups are to increase representation of veteran and military personnel in the workforce and address issues or concerns specifically affecting the military and veteran community. The groups are also interested in establishing a Veteran to Veteran (“V2V”) program that provides an opportunity for employees who are veterans to visit patients in the Penn State Health medical facilities with military backgrounds.

“We are extremely grateful to have faculty and staff who served in the military,” said Dr. Kevin Black, interim dean of Penn State College of Medicine. “Their leadership skills, integrity and commitment to communication and respect are valuable characteristics of any employee, and many of the personnel who have served our country apply them to their work at the College of Medicine.”

Employee Marvin Smith wears a camouflage vest and helmet while holding a gun pointed toward the ground.

Marvin Smith, assistant vice president of facilities at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, leads a training exercise while serving as commander of the Air Force engineering squadron in Guam

Marvin Smith, assistant vice president of facilities at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said his experiences in the Air Force shaped his thoughts about leadership. “One key benefit of military service is learning that leadership is essential at all levels of the team,” he said. “Every veteran, regardless of what role they fill, brings leadership and teamwork to the organization.”

“The biggest thing the Army taught me was integrity and taking pride in my work,” said Elizabeth Nagle, a licensed practical nurse at Penn State Health Medical Group, Community Practice Division. “No matter who is around, I strive to do the right thing and do what’s best for our patients.”

Veterans Day began as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1918, to commemorate the end of World War I, and was established as a legal holiday in the U.S. in 1938. In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, the term “armistice” was replaced with “veterans” to expand the observance to all American veterans.  It is now a day to thank and honor those who have served in the military, living or deceased, with a focus on those who are living.

This observance differs from Memorial Day, which focuses on those who lost their lives in service of their country. Read more on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

The Penn State Health Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion solicited military service stories from staff who are veterans from across the health system. To see the stories of those who wanted to share, view the slide show.

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