Patriotic presence: Penn State Health military veterans continue service
In the patients who walk through the doors of Penn State Health Medical Group – Cornerstone in Lititz, Dr. Scott Osborn sees the same sense of community and connection to a greater purpose that he saw as a chief medical officer in the U.S. Army.
“It’s that same ‘salt of the earth’ kind of people, and I feel honored to help meet their needs just as I helped meet needs in Afghanistan,” said Osborn, who was in the U.S. Army Reserve from 2003 to 2007 while he was in medical school and on active duty from 2007 to 2014.
Carrying on a family tradition of military service – both grandfathers served in World War II – Osborn completed a three-year family medicine residency at Fort Benning in Georgia, got orders for service with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy, and eventually shipped out for Afghanistan.
There, he attended to trauma cases as the senior medical official on the ground and helped train U.S. and Afghan medics. Later, he cared for soldiers and their families at the U.S. Army Health Center Vicenza. He completed his service at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, where he was the director of a clinic for retired military personnel and their dependents.
“My military experience helps me better serve veterans in our community because I can speak their language – it’s a connection, especially in family medicine,” Osborn said.
The deep agricultural roots in Lancaster County’s makeup provide a very stable population that is enhanced by many people moving into the area, creating a diversity that Osborn says he is fortunate to serve.
“I felt very proud to do my service for our country, and I feel proud to continue to care for patients right here in Lancaster County,” he said.
Penn State Health recognizes the value of a diverse workforce in advancing innovation and excellence – and employees who are veterans and military service personnel are an aspect of that commitment to diversity, said Lynette Chappell-Williams, chief diversity officer at Penn State Health.
“They epitomize our values and advance our need for employees with exceptional leadership, teamwork and adaptability skills,” she said.
Kat Schoenknecht, a registered nurse and oncology financial counselor at Penn State Health Lime Spring Outpatient Center, sees her current job as a natural extension of service she felt proud to give while serving as a U.S. Army medic at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, from 1984 to 1987.
“I got my passion for nursing from being exposed to some very strong nurses there,” said Schoenknecht, who worked in the emergency room, adult and pediatric clinic and surgical floor.
When she returned home, she remained on inactive duty until 1990 and earned her bachelor of science in nursing in 2000.
Her personal journey with breast cancer led her to specialize in oncology, where she says her clinical knowledge helps her better advocate for patients in need of financial resources and services.
“The people that walked me through that journey were a huge influence, and it’s an honor to help the next person along on that journey,” she said. “I know what they are going through. I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”
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