Michigan Medicine veterans reflect on 20th anniversary of Sept. 11

September 13, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,
American flag flying in middle of University of Michigan's campus.

This past Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a historical moment that impacted the trajectory of our country forever.

Following the tragic attacks, first responders, front-line medical professionals and servicemembers across the country demonstrated an immense amount of bravery and commitment to the protection and preservation of freedom and livelihood.

At Michigan Medicine, it is important to take a moment to honor and acknowledge our first responders, front-line employees, active duty servicemembers and veterans — both past and present. Thank you for the courage each of you show every day. 

A look back

The effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks are etched into our hearts forever.

Members of the Michigan Medicine veteran community recently reminisced on Sept. 11, 2001, and the impact it had on their time of service: 

Renee A. Prince M.H.A., B.S.N., R.N., CNOR, NE-BC, perioperative associate chief nursing officer, University Hospital and Frankel Cardiovascular Center, adjunct clinical instructor, U-M School of Nursing.

“I had been enlisted nearly seven years when 9/11 changed our nation. It is a day that most can recall exactly where they stood. I was in nursing school completing a clinical rotation on 4C, with my instructor and my patient watching in horror as the rest of the country did. As we continued to gather and I watched it unfold, I knew that meant my life as a soldier would look different. I was terrified even though the Army trains you for these situations. As I deployed to Afghanistan, returned, and ultimately retired from the Army, I’d like to call attention to one memory I am forever grateful for. There was an undeniably, seemingly never-ending outreach from my coworkers here at Michigan Medicine, many of whom are still here today. The remarkable letters, snacks, games, and gratitude from the countless boxes continued month after month and reassured me in ways you will never know. I would like to encourage us all to consider a thoughtful word or reassurance for all veterans so that they know we are here to listen if you need support. The Veterans Crisis Line also offers free, confidential support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-877-424-3838.

Fr. Lew W. Eberhart, B.A., M-div., retired chief petty officer, BMC(SW) USN-R

“On 9/11, I was a student seminarian studying for the priesthood. I was angry about the attack, especially in the early hours of the attack when no clear numbers of lives lost was known. I reflected over my military career and I was saddened that the Middle East conflict had not been settled at this time. But with the loss of the twin towers and the attack against the Pentagon, I became more determined to complete my priesthood studies and to be ordained so I could have a unique voice as a priest with a military background to voice for peace.”

Kevin R. Ward. M.D., LTC U.S. Army Reserves Medical Corps, Department of Emergency Medicine

“9/11 changed my life by changing my academic and research career as an emergency physician. As we witnessed the horrible injuries our military was encountering from improvised explosive devices and other weapons, it was apparent that we had to rethink combat casualty care since we never encountered such injuries in civilian trauma care. 

Since that time, I had the opportunity and privilege to form and work with teams that developed new ways to control life-threatening hemorrhage, change the way we transfuse blood and resuscitate warfighters, and train a new generation of combat medics. 

This work and the service of others like Drs. Dawn Coleman and Jon Elliason, inspired me to enlist in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps and serve in a Forward Resuscitation Surgical Team.  My recent deployment to Afghanistan was the most rewarding experience of my career.”

A chance for veterans to connect

Michigan Medicine would like to invite veterans and their families to join our Veterans Connections Resource Group (VCRG) offered by the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion.

The VCRG is a community that gathers to promote belonging and inclusion while discovering how our organization can best meet the needs of our veterans and their families. The VCRG meets the third Wednesday of every month and engages in authentic dialogue and shared experiences as well as highlighting opportunities for Michigan Medicine to be more inclusive of our veterans.

Please email veteransresourcegroup@umich.edu for further details on participating.