After a seven-month military deployment to an undisclosed location, Raechel Oyen has friends, family and co-workers who know exactly where the service member and Sanford Health employee is today. And they’re preparing a surprise ambush.
Caught off-guard, the 25-year-old opens the door to a secret party in her honor at the Sanford Business Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“Raechel is a rock star,” Jonathan Goehring, Sanford Health manager of talent acquisitions, said.
‘Rock star’ is 2021 Sanford Health Veteran of the Year
Oyen, a technical sergeant, serves with the 114th Fighter Wing of the South Dakota Air National Guard.
She’s also a treasured talent advisor at Sanford Health and now the 2021 Sanford Health Veteran of the Year.
“She always looks at improvement like getting things done the right way, the most efficient way. She’s a go-getter. She’s a very good people person. In my line of work, that’s what you need to be,” Goehring said.
During the award celebration, John Higgins, Sanford Health senior director of talent acquisition, read off a number of reasons why Oyen deserves recognition.
“She leads with a level of integrity that makes our organization and the military she serves, proud,” Higgins said. “She puts everyone ahead of herself and no words could articulate our gratefulness for her strong work ethic and determination to be successful.”
Oyen gives kudos to her team for setting up the event.
“It’s awesome that they were actually able to surprise me. I was definitely shocked,” Oyen said. “My mom’s a nurse here at Sanford so that she could actually show up is pretty awesome.”
Oyen’s brothers are also in the military.
‘Letting me transition back when I was ready to’
Having a supportive employer while active in the military can be a situation that’s hard to find.
“To be able to leave for seven months and walk back in like you weren’t gone for seven months is a nice experience. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about people’s employers not really being so flexible,” Oyen said. “It’s more of like a family-friendly environment and letting me transition back when I was ready to. It’s kind of a big deal.”
A retired Air Force veteran and previous winner of this award, Goehring says Sanford Health prides itself in taking care of vets.
“It’s an amazing place for veterans to work. We have a lot of initiatives. We won the Employer Support Freedom Award, which is one of the highest awards any civilian organization can win,” Goehring said.
Employees who’ve served in the military are an important part of the culture at Sanford Health.
Goehring adds Sanford Health wants veterans to know it’s “an employer of choice. We want to be your caregiver. We want you to know that you matter for us.”
That matters a lot to Oyen. She’s far from finished with the fighter wing.
“I liked the deployment. I would definitely sign up to do it again,” Oyen said. “I only have seven years in. Hopefully get a couple more deployments under my belt.”
In addition to the physical Veteran of the Year award, Sanford Health is giving Oyen a $1,000 bonus.
Sanford Health requires masking in its locations. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to the current masking policy in nonpatient care areas.
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