Connect Live

Connect Live | November 11, 2021
Story 60

In this Veteran's Day special episode, host Joyce Newmyer speaks with U.S. Air Force veteran Dr. Terry Johnsson, who serves as Mission and Spiritual Care Executive at Adventist Health Portland. In addition, we highlight a story of how EMT Courtney Divine's quick-thinking and compassionate action helped give one patient a second chance.

How do we talk to and with each other? How do we maybe do less telling? Because communication isn't just about sharing information. It's a two-way street. How do we ask more questions?

Joyce Newmyer: Welcome to Connect Live at Adventist Health. I'm Joyce Newmyer, the Chief Culture Officer at Adventist Health, and your host for Connect Live. So live this week, a class adopts our podcast, what are you grateful for, and a second chance.

The faculty at Riverside City College School of Business in California added to their business ethics class as part of their required curriculum Adventist Health's Story and Experience Podcast episode with Eric Stevens, our Care Division Operations Executive. The sincerity, honesty, and emotional intelligence in that episode has touched their students and is a great tool to reinforce the type of future leaders they hope to develop. Every week we release conversations with leaders from around the world, sharing their stories and experiences that shape them into the leaders they are today, and this particular episode with Eric Stevens has become our number one download. Thank you, Eric, for the authentic conversation. You can listen to Eric and many others on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or on our website, Today I'm delighted to welcome our guest, Terry Johnsson. Dr. Terry Johnsson, thank you for joining me today.

Dr. Terry Johnsson: Joyce, it is an honor to be able to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Joyce Newmyer: Well, we know you're the Mission and Spiritual Care Executive for Adventist Health Portland. For the month of November, we've been asking all of our associates to share with us, what are we grateful for? And today, on Veterans Day, November 11, we celebrate and we're grateful for veterans’ services. So Terry, you're also a veteran. Unlike most veterans, you served in one place in your entire military career. Where was that?

Dr. Terry Johnsson: Well, Joyce, as an 18-year-old, I was excited to be able to travel the world for free, so I joined the Air Force thinking airplanes, Air Force, traveling. Well, I ended up being stationed in Washington, D.C., my entire military career. I was part of the President’s Honor Guard at the White House for three presidents and never left Washington, D.C., my entire career.

Joyce Newmyer: Not exactly what you had planned for a career in the military, was it?

Dr. Terry Johnsson: No.

Joyce Newmyer: So when I think of those who serve in the military, I think of commitment, discipline, dedication. So how did those qualities show up in the Honor Guard and your experience with the Honor Guard?

Dr. Terry Johnsson: Well, Joyce, I would say for me, one of the things that they taught us that was so important was mission. Mission was just at the core of everything that we did. And the second thing was that our job is bigger than us, and that's what they just put in our heads over and over, and I think that's why I love working with Adventist Health, because as I look at our bigger picture, those two things are so familiar to me. That one is mission is very important, and the second thing is that at all of our local markets and beyond, we realize that this job is so much bigger than us.

Joyce Newmyer: Boy, that's always important for all of us to remember, right? It's not about us, but we all contribute and we all matter.

Dr. Terry Johnsson: Yes.

Joyce Newmyer: So as you know, Terry, my nephew, Aaron flies F-16 fighter jets in another part of our world. I confess to you that I worry about his safety sometimes, and I know your mother wasn't thrilled about your entering the military, but I also know she's very, very proud of your service. So if a young woman or man was considering joining the military today, what counsel would you give them and their families?

Dr. Terry Johnsson: The first thing I would say is thank you, because what they're doing is such an honorable thing. It really honestly is. In fact, the freedom that we have in our country is because of the young men and women and their families, the sacrifices that they've made for us, and so I just really want to say I'm just so thankful for what they're doing, and without them we wouldn't have the freedom that we have.

In fact, Joyce, it reminds me that I saw a bumper sticker the other day that just felt good in my heart. It says that, "If you can read this bumper sticker in freedom, thank a veteran." And it really just made me feel good, and I think that's something that's very important for us to realize, that they are making a sacrifice and we are all benefiting from the sacrifices that they're making. So thank Aaron for me when you talk to him next.

Joyce Newmyer: I will. I will do that. Many people have a habit of walking up to strangers who are wearing clothing, or maybe ball caps indicating past military service and they thank them for their service. So is this something that veterans appreciate or is it an invasion of their private space? I know every person and every situation is different, but what's the best approach to express our gratitude to veterans?

Dr. Terry Johnsson: Well, I would say this. I have never met a vet, and I've met literally thousands. Working in Arlington Cemetery and they're coming back, been part of the World War II Memorial, and every veteran that I've met, they really appreciate people saying thank you to them. And once again, I've never met a vet who says that that doesn't mean something to them. And what I would do is challenge us to go one step farther, and that is that if you are at a Starbucks or wherever you're at and you see that there's a veteran there, they're wearing their hat or their shirt or whatever, buy them a cup of coffee. If you see you're at a restaurant and there's an elderly vet sitting there, buy them a meal.

In fact, I had the privilege of visiting one of our sister hospitals, Tillamook, Adventist Health Tillamook, not that long ago, and I went to this little restaurant and there was a gentleman there having his meal, had his little Korean War hat on. And so I went up to the counter and said, "I want to pay for his meal." And she says, "Oh, that's Phil. He comes, and his wife passed away a few years ago, and he comes in here just about every other day." I said, "No, no, no, I really want to pay for his meal." And so I just put down a certain amount of money and said, "Well, if there's anything left over, just put it as a tip." And that was it. I walked out.

I come back to Adventist Health Tillamook maybe a few months later, I go into the restaurant, and I'm not making this up, the waitress recognized me. She started clapping, and then the cook came out and then they went and got the manager and they're all clapping for me. I'm like, "What in the world?" And people in the restaurant, they're looking at me, and she says, "Oh, let me tell you what happened. Phil is from this community. He's a vet. In his entire life, no one has ever bought him a meal. And when we told him his meal was paid for, he started crying, just tears flowing down his face. He couldn't believe that someone just bought him a meal."

And I didn't do that to have that reaction or whatever, but I just thought it was the right thing to do. And that's why, Joyce, I'm so excited of our organization, Adventist Health, that we took time to honor veterans by having Veterans Day holiday to be celebrated as an organization. And so once again, especially this Veterans Day, I challenge you, go out there, find a vet, make a phone call, do something great, because we do appreciate it, and we did make a sacrifice so that we can have the freedom that we have today.

Joyce Newmyer: Thanks, Terry. We know freedom isn't free, right?

Dr. Terry Johnsson: That's it. Yes.

Joyce Newmyer: Thank you for being such a great example of how we can honor veterans right around us. So Sergeant Terry Johnsson, United States Air Force, White House Honor Guard, thank you for your service to our nation, for your service to Adventist Health. You're an inspiration and a force for good, my friend. I'm grateful for you.

Dr. Terry Johnsson: Thank you for having me.

Joyce Newmyer: Thanks for being with us.

Our final story today is about a second chance. Leonard Lucero shared that he gets up every morning and thanks the Lord for another day. He was close to death when EMT Courtney Divine saw him pull up to the front entrance of the hospital. Courtney's quick thinking and compassionate action helped save his life before they even got him out of the car. Courtney gives credit to her team, but will always remember the events of that day as Leonard's second chance. In recognition of her efforts, Courtney received Adventist Health Sonora's Angel Award. You can watch this film and many others at Friends, thanks for connecting live and we'll see you here again next week. Until then, let's be a force for good