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Rogers holds first system-wide September 11th Remembrance Event

09/20/21 02:35:pm

Employees from across the country shared their memories and stories of 9/11, as Rogers marked the 20th anniversary with its first system-wide remembrance event.

The inspiring virtual tribute held on September 9 was hosted by the Military, Veterans, and Supporters (MVS) Employee Resource Group with an introduction by Karen Nelson, director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Nelson recalled her own experience, frantically trying to reach her brother, who served as a U.S. Air Force missile combat crew commander and worked at the Pentagon.

“All I could do was burst into tears at the sound of his voice over the phone some six-and-a-half hours later when he was finally able to get out of the underground garage and call me back,” Nelson said.

After sharing a timeline of events from that historic day and statistics highlighting the ongoing impact to people’s mental health, Nelson led a moment of silence for 9/11 and the recent tragic events in Afghanistan.

A variety of Rogers staff members went on to offer their reflections on 9/11 and what it means to them, including the three co-leads of the MVS Employee Resource Group: Rae Anne Ho Fung, PhD, a psychologist and clinical supervisor; Josh Nadeau, PhD, a psychologist and senior clinical director; and Matthew Pflepsen, LMS administrator – all veterans themselves.

  • 2,977 people from 93 nations across three locations were killed in the attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  

  • 5 to 11% of Americans are living with PTSD or trauma as a direct result of the events, connections, or coverage of 9/11.

  • 1.8 million veterans have diagnosed physical and psychological injuries, with many more unaccounted for.

  • Between 1.9 and 3 million service members have served in post-9/11 war operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and over half of them have deployed more than once.

Pflepsen called 9/11 a significant catalyst for him to join the military. On the 20th anniversary, he wants to focus on the emotional toll it has taken on so many people.

“Never having thought I’d be working at a behavioral health organization, I want to take advantage of where I am and where so many of my constituents are who have joined me in the ERG to do whatever we can to open a doorway to listen and support anyone with mental health issues surrounding 9/11,” he said. “There’s nothing too small or great that can be done.”

It’s important to remember 9/11, according to Dr. Ho Fung, because it shaped so much of our lives and because of the interactions we all have with veterans.

“Most notably for me has been the mental health impact of engaging in conflict for two decades,” Dr. Ho Fung said. “We’ve seen people come back with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and unfortunately have lost people due to suicide.”

For Dr. Nadeau, 9/11 has less to do with what he was specifically doing that day and more about the realization that what the military does and how members live on a daily basis are very different from the civilian world, which makes it difficult to explain their experiences to others.

He said, “When I came out the other side of that back into the civilian world and into the field of mental health care, it became important for me to think about questions like how to bridge that gap and how to translate those experiences so that you can better advocate for your own needs and better prepare our predominantly civilian-based systems to address those needs.”

More employees who shared their stories during the presentation were:

  • Janet Gatlin, regional outreach manager, Wisconsin and Minnesota
  • Kim Peterson, outreach representative, Brown Deer
  • Laura Miller, development coordinator, Rogers Behavioral Health Foundation
  • David Draper, training and instructional designer, Talent Development
  • Megan Ramel, lead Regional utilization review and intake specialist, Illinois and Tennessee

Military, veterans, and supporters are welcome to join the employee resource group and should email Matthew.Pflepsen@rogersbh.org.

According to Anne Ballentine, vice president, Marketing and Communications, and executive sponsor of the MVS Employee Resource Group, it has three main areas of focus:

  • Bridging the gaps veterans and families may face when it comes to accessing Rogers’ evidence-based treatment
  • Tapping into more recruitment opportunities for roles at Rogers
  • Ensuring sensitivity is brought to every interaction with veterans and their families

You can view the full recording of the September 11th Remembrance Event above or by visiting the event page on Rogers Connect.

Watch for more multicultural events, including a four-week mini-series of virtual celebrations for Hispanic Heritage Month taking place now through October 15.

Please visit the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion page on Rogers Connect for more information.

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