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Honoring Veterans Day 2021

By Neil C. Vining, MD, National Medical Director of TeamHealth Surgical Services, Co-Chair of TeamHealth Veterans Resource Group, and Chair, Geneva Foundation

On this Veterans Day, I was asked to address some of the ways TeamHealth hopes to partner with veterans in their transition from the world of the military professional to that of the civilian professional. It seems like kind of a straightforward topic, really, but I’m finding it hard to do it justice. Maybe I can explain why.

“Transitioning” from Military to Civilian Professional

I’ve been trying to make that transition for a little more than a decade now. I enlisted at age 17, right out of high school, and wrapped it up just after turning 40. Five presidents, four wars, a bunch of continents… you know the drill. But here’s the thing—the more I think about it the more I realize that, if you’re like me, you never really “transition” to the civilian world. You just kind of learn to work with it.

You’ll never be confident that the people around you understand what “chain of command” really means. You’ll always wonder if their idea of “worst possible outcome” is anything close to your burnt-into-the-retina image of “worst possible outcome.” You will come to realize that for all its bureaucracy and silly regulations, there is something about the sense of kinship in the wartime military that others cannot ever understand. You won’t know how they will make sense of the fact that the most brutal times of your life are somehow the times you miss the most. You probably feel a little worried about that last one, too, because it’s pretty hard to come to terms with. And they’ll never, ever get your references to old AFN commercials (“Squeakers the Hamster,” anyone? Anyone?)

Supporting Military to Civilian Transitions

So how do you “transition?” Honestly, I don’t think I really want to, at least not fully. As I’ve contemplated this blog, I’ve tried to be brutally honest with myself. What do I as a veteran really, and I mean really, want from the organization I “transition” into? Here, at least as best I can, is my answer. Maybe it rings true with some of you, too. I want to be a part of something that offers me the hope that the most meaningful work I’ll ever do is not all in my past.

For veterans, that is a big question. For an organization, it is a high, high bar.

Veterans want to succeed in whatever they do. TeamHealth wants to help you get there. However, I think I understand now that what we can really do for veterans is to be the kind of mission-driven, servant-led organization that each of you would be proud to be a part of. We need to give you reason to believe that, even after leaving the military, what you do matters.

I hope I – and we – can live up to that.

TeamHealth’s Veterans Resource Group

TeamHealth’s Veterans Resource Group was established to honor our employees who currently serve or previously served in the military, as well as military spouses. Our members aid in the employment of other veterans by recruiting them and supporting them in the transition from military service to civilian employment. If you would like more information about how TeamHealth supports veterans, please reach out to us.

Oh, and thank you for your service. Really. Best wishes for a peaceful and reflective Veterans Day.