Military Appreciation Month: HCA Healthcare colleague shares his call to serve
May, marked officially as Military Appreciation Month, is a special month for HCA Healthcare colleagues both in and out of the military. Not only do we pause on Memorial Day to remember the sacrifice and service of those who gave all, but the month also holds several other military anniversaries and events, including Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Armed Forces day. Since 2012, HCA Healthcare has hired more than 40,000 veterans, active-duty personnel and military spouses. And, throughout our organization’s history, military colleagues have played an important role in delivering on our mission to care for and improve human life.
In recognition of Military Appreciation Month, we spoke with Michael Furster, a facility information security official with HCA Healthcare’s Physician Services Group. Read below as Michael, a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve, sheds light on his military career and shares how his experiences help to fulfill our purpose to give people a healthier tomorrow.
How has HCA Healthcare helped you serve both your country and your community?
“Serving others is ingrained in the HCA Healthcare culture,” said Michael, who has been with our organization since 2014. He currently works on the Facility Information Security Official team within HCA Healthcare’s Physician Services Group. Michael has also completed our Aspiring Manager’s Program and has served as a Caring for the Community (CFC) leader.
“As a CFC lead, I was able to see that giving and serving were prioritized by everyone from our leaders to individual colleagues,” said Michael.
This sentiment extends well beyond the walls of HCA Healthcare, carrying over to Michael’s inspiring military career.
Tell us about your military career.
“I joined the military right out of high school to serve the nation while gaining experience in a trade. That decision changed my outlook and gave me discipline and focus. As an enlisted member, I worked on Cobra and Apache helicopters,” said Michael, who has been stationed and deployed across the world as an active-duty soldier.
“I was stationed in Germany, Fort Campbell (Kentucky), Hawaii, and Fort Drum (New York). While stationed in Germany, my first deployment was to Saudi Arabia and Iraq during the first Gulf War,” Michael continued. “After a ten-year break, I enlisted in the Army Reserve and achieved the rank of Major.”
Michael has served in several units of the Army, including Engineer, Transportation, Aviation and Signal Battalions. During his most recent deployment, Michael served in the 335th Signal Command (T)(P) under the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).
“During my first deployment, I arrived in Kuwait prior to flying to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; I had forgotten how hot the weather was – 115 – 120degrees – and the weather in Saudi Arabia was virtually the same,” Michael recalled of his time half a world away. “My non-commissioned officer and I arrived in the middle of COVID-19 lockdowns, so we had lots of virtual calls. I was able to speak with my wife most days via Skype. Technology has made a deployment much more endurable with the ability to talk with family and friends in ways that were never available before.”
How has HCA Healthcare supported your deployments?
After spending six-and-a-half months in Saudi Arabia, Michael returned to Kuwait where he served as the Future Operations Officer. Although it was one of the most difficult roles he’s ever held, it helped him develop his leadership skills and utilize the IT skills he had learned at HCA Healthcare to increase his team’s productivity and transform how they conducted business on a daily basis.
“As an Army Reserve Officer, there are many responsibilities and expectations placed on me, such as being on duty one weekend a month, regular tasks required for soldier readiness and schools that I attend for various duties and military career progression,” said Michael.
Michael noted that the lessons he’s learned in both roles can often be applied to one other. “I could always count on the IPS team to assist me and my family’s needs during my absences. Having that kind of support gave me the peace of mind to focus on my military responsibilities during my deployments.”
During Michael’s deployment in Kuwait, he requested that a flag be flown to honor HCA Healthcare.
“I wanted to express my gratitude for HCA Healthcare, including the leadership, Information Protection and Security (IPS) team and other individuals who checked on me and my family during my deployment. I experienced a lot of stress [being in the military], but it relieved me of a huge burden knowing that people were looking out for my family while I was gone.”
Although the military often presents soldiers with certificates to express their gratitude, Michael spoke with a Major who offered to fly a flag for him over Al Asad Air Base in Iraq.
The flag was flown in HCA Healthcare’s honor on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. “The flag represents the nation and freedom that we fight and sacrifice for. We wake up in the morning and salute the flag as it rises; we end our day saluting the flag as it is brought down to rest for the evening,” said Michael. “It is a privilege and honor to salute this symbol of all of the trials and tribulations that our nation has gone through in search of freedom and a better tomorrow for the next generation.”
Michael remembers where he was on September 11, 2001. “I was traveling from upstate New York to Bennington, Vermont for the company I worked for at the time. I got a voicemail from a colleague in New York City about an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center; it wasn’t until later that day that I was able to understand the extent of what had taken place,” he said. “We as a nation lost so much that day. For me, taking time every September 11 to remember and honor those who lost their lives is a way to ensure that I will never forget that day. Honoring those who died and those who serve our country to prevent another attack is what it really meant to have the flag flown.”
Thank you to all of the brave men and women of our military. We send our deepest gratitude to those who serve our nation with selfless courage and tremendous sacrifice.
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About HCA Healthcare
HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.
As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.