From the first tee at the Sanford International, patriotism and gratitude for our military heroes is a driving force linking many in the crowd together.
“It’s very humbling when you get to meet all these men and women that have served this country. To hear their stories,” said Capt. Paul Weckman, who retired from the U.S. Navy.
Weckman, the head of military and veteran affairs at Sanford Health, volunteered to host a special gathering on hole 17 honoring those who’ve served.
Taking in some of the PGA Tour Champions action with a buddy, free of charge, is Vietnam veteran Terry Kohler.
“Makes you feel good,” Kohler said about the gesture. “Never had it happen before.”
The Marine is a Sanford patient and says the organization’s respect for servicemembers is right there on the front door when he goes to appointments at his clinic.
“I think it’s ‘Welcome Veterans,’” Kohler said, mentioning the sign on the entrance.
The phrase didn’t used to be a “gimmie” for those returning from war.
“For the first 15 years or 20 years it was unreal. They didn’t care for us. Now there’s a big change,” Kohler said. “Thank you Sanford.”
Attending to veterans’ needs isn’t just a fringe priority for Sanford Health.
“For those on active duty, for those in the Guard and Reserve, we want to be your employer of choice. If you want to transition and come work for Sanford, we’re going to take care of you,” Weckman said.
On top of flexible scheduling for those actively serving the country, the organization offers veteran scholarships and the Sanford Veteran Professional Development Grant for Employees. It’s a maximum annual grant of $3,000 staff can use to grow their careers.
Weckman adds, “if you come to Sanford Health for care and treatment, we want to be your provider of choice.”
Air Force veteran Dave Rowe volunteers at the Sanford USD Medical Center Veterans Club in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He’s also been chipping in at the golf tournament for five years.
“I think they do an incredible job of making sure the veterans are honored in the hospital,” Rowe said. “It makes me feel good. I like it.”
“I’m proud to be a veteran, so I’m very happy that Sanford does that.”
It’s support that runs deep, filling the cup for Weckman.
“It’s the right thing to do, it’s as simple as that when you think of the sacrifices. I get choked up over it but —” Weckman said through tears.
“That’s very rewarding. My calling.”
Posted In Golf, Sanford International, Sanford Sports, Veterans