Resilience, humility and hustle: Celebrating MUSC veterans

November 14, 2022
Several American flags waving on a sunny day.
The American flag serves as a symbol of the United States and the shared history, pride and principles of its people, according to

MUSC veterans and supporters attended an online Veterans Day ceremony to honor their service, courage, sacrifices and many contributions to protecting the nation, on Nov. 11. The event was held virtually to allow all employees and students to be part of the Veterans Day holiday.

The ceremony started with the MUSC Public Safety Color Guard presenting the flags of the armed forces, which accompanied the national anthem. MUSC student 2nd Lt. Nadia Robinson shared the history and purpose of Veterans Day.

Lt. Col. Joseph Bernard, a retired United States Marine Corps officer who now serves as COO of MUSC Health-Midlands Division, was the keynote speaker for the virtual event, offered via Microsoft Teams.

Bernard pointed out the similarities between military service and working in the medical field.

“The past two plus years, under the dark cloud of the COVID pandemic, it has shown that resiliency is essential for us to be effective as individuals and as a team and organization,” said Bernard. “But military veterans bring a sense of humility and respect to the table, and they always bring a high energy and a willingness to hustle and get the job done. That bias for action allows us to accomplish the important mission of providing the highest quality of care across the state of South Carolina.”

Headshot of a woman veteran wearing a blue surgical mask and camouflage jacket. Her brown hair is pulled back from her face. 
Captain Cathy Durham. Photo provided

Cathy Durham, DNP, showed the kind of veteran resilience Bernard referenced. In 2020, Durham worked on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, the epicenter of the virus in those early days. Durham, the assistant dean for graduate practice programs and an associate professor in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at MUSC’s College of Nursing, is a proud veteran, having joined the United States Navy in 1995. Since 2007, she has served in the Navy Reserve, where she holds the rank of captain. Her service in the Navy Nurse Corps led her to New York City to help during a very demanding time.

Durham said Veterans Day is special for her, since her family has a long history of military service. She chooses to spend the day with her spouse, who is also a veteran, and her family.

As chaplain and manager of Pastoral Care Services for MUSC Health-Charleston Division, Frank Harris draws on his own experience to support patients as well as the standards and values at MUSC. Harris served 10 years active duty in the United States Air Force, stationed in Oklahoma, Florida and Charleston. Additionally, he was deployed twice during both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He said he observes the day reflecting on the experiences, the values he’s gained and the colleagues he served with. 

Headshot of a man in military uniform standing by an American flag. He has a mustache and closely cropped black hair. 
MUSC Chaplain Frank Harris served in the Air Force. Photo provided

Rob Chisholm is the licensing and credentialing coordinator in the Graduate Medical Education Office in the College of Medicine. Chisholm spent five years active in the Air Force, where he was stationed in Michigan but also volunteered for special duty assignment at Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany. He said he chooses to be in community on Veterans Day. He said he contacts his brother, USAF retired, and his father, who also spent five years in the Air Force. He also attends a local Veterans Day parade in Charleston and visits the VFW Post on the Isle of Palms.

During his keynote address, Bernard shared his belief that the values of MUSC and those of the military intersect. “At MUSC, we have standards of professional behavior,” he said. “Those are compassion, collaboration, integrity, respect and innovation. If you think about each one of those behaviors and think about your time in the military, I think you can draw a very easy connection between your military service and what you do today at MUSC.”

Bernard  also raised the subject of teamwork and stated that awareness and care for those around is a shared value of both the military and MUSC. “Once you're in the military, it becomes readily apparent that you're not there for yourself,” he explained. “You're there to support those military members that are on your left, that are on your right. It's a team effort; that kind of collaboration and alignment is required to be successful in the U.S. military.”

The afternoon concluded with Bernard conducting a Q&A session. Many veterans in attendance asked questions about his experience on Marine One, the helicopter that Bernard piloted during the Clinton administration. He finished his remarks with a quote from President Barack Obama: “When the world makes you cynical, whenever you seek true humility and true selflessness, look to a veteran.”

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