An increasingly strong connection between Sanford Health and the region’s military veterans was on display recently. CEO and President Kelby Krabbenhoft accepted the South Dakota Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Pro Patria Award.
Announced in February 2019 during a South Dakota National Guard event in Pierre, South Dakota, the Pro Patria award recognizes the support, via leadership practices and personnel policies, that Sanford Health gives its employees who serve in the National Guard or Reserve. Sanford Health celebrated with a gathering of Sanford and military personnel in Sioux Falls.
Sanford Health chief of staff Nathan Peterson, an enlisted member of the South Dakota Air National Guard for more than two decades, recounted a conversation he had with Krabbenhoft at a basketball game regarding Peterson’s continued service in the Guard and the role that Sanford could play in support of those in military service.
“After the national anthem he leans over and says he’d really like to get a department of military veteran services put together,” Peterson said. “I said ‘Yes, I’d like to be a part of that.’”
From that time forward, Krabbenhoft said Monday, “It has been a passion.”
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is a Department of Defense agency promoting recognition of military service from employers. Its state chairman Jim White presented Krabbenhoft with the award.
“Sanford and its nearly 50,000 employees understand that our nation’s employers are inextricably linked to our nation’s defense by sharing their most precious asset, their employees,” White said.
In 2017, Sanford Health established its department of veterans and military services under the leadership of retired Navy captain Paul Weckman. It’s an effort that has proceeded steadily under his guidance since then.
“Those of us in health care are asking people to go serve our country and potentially sacrifice more than anything else, than anybody else,” Krabbenhoft said. “And they volunteer to do it. That’s why when they come home I think our industry and our nation should do what Sanford is doing and way beyond in terms of giving them the help they ask for, the help they deserve — and not only for them but also their families.”
In March 2019, Sanford Health announced it would be providing differential pay to its employees who are deployed. It also offers scholarships to veterans and other benefits.
“Those are just moments on the journey,” Krabbenhoft said. “Ultimately when people serve our country they should be afforded the very, very best in health care.”
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