Sanford Health Veterans Clubs open in Fargo and Sioux Falls

March 28, 2018 – Sanford Health unveiled Veterans Clubs at its medical centers in Fargo, North Dakota, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 2018. The spaces give military vets and their families a dedicated place to grab a cup of coffee and meet others who have served their country.

The veterans clubs have opened as part of the organization’s efforts to streamline and add resources for veterans, military personnel and their families.

Learn more: Sanford Veteran & Military Services

“Sanford Health continues to raise the bar for our veterans,” said Paul Weckman, retired U.S. Navy captain and director of the organization’s department of veterans and military services. “We strive to make Sanford a provider of choice for veterans and their families, and this club will offer them additional conveniences while at the medical center.”

In addition to providing a space to relax or talk with fellow veterans between appointments, the clubs have beverages, guest computer access and a lounge area with a game table and TV.

Veterans clubs show commitment

Amanda Saeger is director of three Sanford Health clinics in Sioux Falls that serve patients with diabetes, kidney and vascular-related diseases. She said the clubs are consistent with the organization’s longstanding commitment to vets, which includes a ceremony every November.

A recent event fell on the day that family members of her cousin, 18-year-old Alex Lorang, were leaving the medical center after he died from injuries in a car accident. The Lincoln High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps color guard, of which Alex was a member, approached them about taking part.

“My family was asked to join the Sanford family as the National Anthem was sung and the colors were displayed and the flag was honored,” Saeger later wrote in an email to Weckman. “Brad Schipper, vice president, took the time to recognize a family mourning a life lost too soon. He asked for a moment of silence to honor a young man who loved this country and honored it proudly.

“As a daughter (dad, Marines) and daughter-in-law (dad-in-law, Army) of veterans (also employees of Sanford), I am proud of what Sanford is doing to honor our employees, patients, and families for the sacrifice they made many years ago or are currently sacrificing for America,” she wrote.

Employee recognition

Steve Mund, senior director of surgical services at the Sanford Medical Center Fargo, retired in 2014 from the U.S. Army Reserves. His 18-year career included multiple front-line deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a nurse anesthetist.

“The real heroes are the guys who carry the guns. I was happy to be there to be able to care for them as best we could. We also cared for civilians,” he said of his service.

The veterans clubs build on other Sanford Health efforts to honor veterans. For instance, Sanford Health employees have the option of indicating their military service on their employee badge, said Mund. He joined Sanford Health in 2011 after 13 years at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he was chief certified registered nurse anesthetist.

“Veterans have a unique bond,” he said. “This is one of those acknowledgements. Sanford’s not taking a position about the military. Sanford’s taking a position about thanking the people who serve us all. That’s what I see in the veterans program that we’ve initiated.”

Kathy Schuler, executive director of surgery at  Sanford USD Medical Center, echoed that.

She joined the military out of high school. For served eight years she was a semi and heavy equipment driver in the South Dakota National Guard. At the same time, she worked full-time as a nurse. Now, as a Sanford Health leader, she said she does everything possible to support former and current members of the military.

They need a place like these veterans clubs, Schuler said.

“I think it will be a nice place for people to gather and have camaraderie,” she said. “It’s amazing because you’ve still got people from the Vietnam and Korean wars and Gulf War people. You’ve got people from all generations who can take advantage of this space.”

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