November 11, 2019

Celebrating our Veterans

Pictured is my grandfather, Fred Soyka. At age 18, in 1936, he was a ski instructor in Germany. One day, he and his sister decided to ski across the German border, to escape Nazi persecution. He made his way to England, where he was caught working on a student visa and was told to leave. When he was told to leave England, he had two choices; move to America or back to Germany.

My grandfather chose America and moved to New York City. When he arrived, he looked up the only contact he had, a family that had visited his town in Germany a few years prior. This family was my grandmother Carolyn’s family. My grandfather convinced her to go on a date, ultimately leading to their 74 years of marriage.

My grandfather served proudly in the United States Army during World War II, defending the country that gave him his freedom and opportunity.

He was one of my role models and had a tremendous influence on me growing up. He taught me a lot about loyalty, perseverance and hard work. When reflecting back, I’ve realized my views on healthcare were shaped by my experiences helping care for him. I learned a lot about the importance and value of clarity in his goals of care. My family and I were fortunate that he passed away at home, with his family at his bedside, at the age of 98.

As I honor the sacrifices all veterans make, I’d like to take a moment to thank our veterans at Sound. Their service to our country is incredible and I cannot thank them enough. These are their service stories.

Appreciation for Service

Clarence E Foster, Sound Physicians Veteran

Serving in the U. S. Army Reserves for 20 plus years taught me a lot about leadership and teamwork. It has also taught me to appreciate what we have in the U.S.A. There are many simple freedoms that we have here that others do not.

I was most proud serving with a Forward Surgery Team in Afghanistan on the Pakistan border. I learned a lot about practicing medicine in an austere environment at an altitude of 9,500 feet.

While serving, the meaning of Veterans Day has changed for me since. I have developed a better appreciation for what my father-in-law endured during the Korean and Vietnam Wars as well as my uncles in the Vietnam War.

Clarence E. Foster, III MD FACS, Medical Director of Advisory Services, Sound Advisory Services

A Night to Remember

My proudest yet saddest service moment was the night of January 17, 2010 aboard the Naval Hospital Ship USNS Comfort TAH-20. The Haiti earthquake had struck the island nation on January 10, just a few days earlier. I was deployed on short notice, having flown out two days later from Sea-Tac Airport to board the Naval Hospital Ship Comfort. The ship was called up for the emergency deployment while in storage at berth in Baltimore, MD.

Romeo Felicano, Sound Physicians Veteran

Upon arrival in Port-au-Prince Harbor, amid the preparations to transport patients aboard, I received an urgent chat message from the shore detachment regarding two boys, 10 and 12 years old, that were critically injured from their house collapsing on them during the earthquake. The ship’s medical personnel and helicopter detachment crew were not ready for flight operations to receive patients until the morning. I contacted the Hospital Commander, who arranged an emergency meeting with the Ship’s Master (Civilian Captain) and the Helicopter Wing detachment Commander in the Master’s office. They agreed that the situation warranted an unscheduled emergency flight to bring the young boys to the ship for treatment and called flight quarters to prepare the helicopter and the embarked hospital aboard the ship to receive them. I notified the shore detachment personnel that the helicopter would be preparing for the mission.

I returned to my post and continued coordination with the shore detachment until the patients were picked-up and brought to the ship for treatment. I was not involved in medical care, but it was important to me to bring the leadership together that could go ashore and bring back the patients to try and save their lives. The next day I found out that only one of the patients made it through the night. It was difficult to process, but I was comforted that we saved one life that night.

I wasn’t given the opportunity to go ashore during that deployment, but I saw many patients around the ship in the wards and overflowed into the hallways as there were so many injured. I have been on many deployments during my 20 year US Navy career but this night during the humanitarian mission was my proudest and most memorable.

Romeo Felicano, I.T. Helpdesk Analyst, Sound Physicians, First Class Petty Officer, United States Navy Retired

Teamwork for a Common Cause

Michael Keyes, Sound Physicians Veteran

Aside from discipline and respect instilled in the Services, the most important skill I learned while in the Air Force, was no doubt, teamwork.

The brothers and sisters you serve with come from the most diverse backgrounds imaginable, and while serving, everyone sets aside personal differences for one common cause.

The military, in my mind, also puts life in perspective in regards to the daily conveniences we as Americans often take for granted.

Michael Keyes, Physician Assistant, Sound Physicians

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