MUSC salutes employees in virtual Veterans Day event

November 12, 2021
MUSC honor more than 2,200 men and women employee-veterans at its Nov. 10 virtual event.

In a more subdued gathering than in previous years, a small crowd of current and former military employee-veterans and supporters gathered both in person at the Bioengineering Building Auditorium and online to honor their contributions at the MUSC Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 10. The event was low-key due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic concerns.

Tom Crawford, Ph.D., MUSC Health system chief operating officer and a Navy veteran, served as host of the virtual event. It was shown via Microsoft Teams. Crawford recognized all MUSC veterans for joining the ceremony and thanked them for their service to our country and MUSC.

“There are 2,200 veterans within the MUSC Health system,” said Crawford. “I’ve spent a lot of time teaching students within MUSC’s Master in Health Administration curriculum in the College of Health Professions, and I remind them that MUSC is a service industry in health care. I tell students there’s no higher responsibility than caring for another human being, if they’re sick or injured. People in military service do this every day with a willingness to lay down one’s life so others can enjoy the freedom and liberties of our country. Today, I’m in a room of selfless heroes across MUSC Health who are willing to lay down their lives to protect the freedom and liberties we all enjoy. It’s humbling for me to host today’s Veterans Day program and recognize the veterans around us." 

One of those veterans is Michelle Cunningham, M.D., a family medicine physician with MUSC Health who works at the West Ashley Medical Pavilion in Charleston. Cunningham is an Air Force veteran who has 12 years of service – seven years of active duty and five years in the Air Force Reserve. She serves as a flight surgeon, supporting pilots, aircrews and air traffic control teams. Annually, Cunningham and her family celebrate Veterans Day and support the many local businesses that recognize veterans.

Dr. Michelle Cunningham is an MUSC physician and veteran 
MUSC Health's Dr. Michelle Cunningham is a physician and veteran serving in the Air Force Reserve. Photo Provided

Crawford introduced the MUSC Office of Public Safety color guard to present the colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance before introducing Rev. Frank Harris, an MUSC chaplain and Air Force veteran, who led a prayer honoring all veterans.

Crawford also introduced event speaker Matt Redding, deputy director of individual assistance in the Federal Emergency Management Agency Office of Response and Recovery and a U.S. Army veteran.

“The theme of resilience is what I’d like to discuss, as our nation has been tested time and time again, and it’s always been the veteran who is the first to answer our nation’s call. Reflecting on my own experiences as a veteran and working with veterans in my role at FEMA, veterans have been tested and trained and remain committed to the ideals that make this nation great,” said Redding.

“It’s that sense of purpose, sense of mission, calmness under pressure, that all veterans can give to any organization. Veterans are team players, and that offers a sense of resilience, purpose, direction and motivation to anyone that welcomes them onto their team,” he explained, adding that veterans also quietly support from behind, knowing how important a team is in helping to solve problems and getting the job done.

That, he said, makes “the 2,200 veterans at MUSC special in their own right.”

Redding concluded his address by noting how important the work of veterans has been during the pandemic. “Resilience, too, begins with those who have a call. And for those who’ve served, they were called to their nation’s service. No matter who calls –  it’s the nurse, doctor, assistant, corpsman, Army medic, working side by side with their civilian counterparts during the COVID-19 pandemic – we’ve all reached new levels of service. Thank you MUSC for hosting this important ceremony and thank you to MUSC’s entire veterans workforce for what you do and contribute every day. And God bless the USA.”