During the past year, something very cool has happened at healthsystemCIO.com. Our webinars have taken on a life of their own. What started as a once-in-a-while offering has become a driving force for our publication and — at least we hope — a valuable educational tool for our audience. We’ve had some of the most influential and intelligent CIOs in the industry share their experiences for the benefit of others, and we’ve even earned the seal of approval from CHIME.
Webinars have become a core part of what we do, and every single one of them is meaningful. But to me, the one we’re fortunate enough to host next week means just a little more.
I realize that, like a parent, you’re not supposed to play favorites with the products you provide. In this case, however, I’m making an exception. You see, next week’s offering — Bringing Vets Into the HIT Workforce — features a topic that hits very close to home for me. In the webinar, Jaime Parent, associate CIO at Rush University Medical Center, will talk about the efforts taking place at the Rush Center for Veterans and their Families to develop a workforce transition program for military members and their families.
Parent, a retired Lieutenant Colonel with the United States Air Force, believes that healthcare IT, a field where top talent is in demand, can benefit from the services of military veterans with proven leadership experience. Under his guidance, Rush Information Services set up a temporary stipend opportunity to train veterans in key healthcare IT technologies.
The program was kicked off last year, and it became clear early on that Rush was onto something. In February, the Center opened and introduced the “Road Home” program, and partnered with the James Lovell Federal Health Care Clinic VA hospitals in the Chicago area to recruit interns. Parent was invited to speak at the HIMSS Conference, and was asked to chair HIMSS’ newly-established Veteran’s Advisory Council.
“Our mission is to improve the lives of service members who deployed in support of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and have returned to civilian life with combat-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury,” he wrote in a blog last fall.
His words hit close home to me, as my older brother Dan served two tours in Afghanistan. Although fortunately he was never injured, he has struggled with his identity and his purpose since returning home, and has found that becoming reintegrated and finding a stable job is far more difficult than many believe it to be.
In a recent blog, he wrote:
That jolt, that incredible jolt, of being on high alert and in incredibly heady situations for months on end, only to return to some place you idealized but instead seems to be fraught with uninteresting choices… that has played quite a role in my lack of a healthy and sustainable reintegration.
Dan, a graduate of Villanova University who earned an ROTC scholarship to attend the school, is far from alone in that regard. There are staggering numbers of smart, skilled people who aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve to succeed. And one of the key reasons is that hiring managers often fail to see the value that a military veteran can bring to a company.
To me, that’s unacceptable. These are leaders who have dealt with situations that are far more stressful than the rest of us can fathom. The time they have put in serving our country should work to their advantage, not to their detriment.
We owe them at least that.
[For more information about the webinar, which will be held Thursday, July 10 at noon ET, please click here.]