Skip links
An older bald man with a white beard and glasses wearing a black Air Force t-shirt smiling and sitting on a couch holding up a book titled "Save Every Life You Can"

Connect Everyone You Can

A Book, a Vietnam Vet, and a Lesson for the Holiday Season

Anyone out there watch “Severance?” No spoilers here, but the plot revolves around a company using a medical procedure to separate employees’ work and personal experiences. Pretty wild stuff―and just the opposite of the story I’m about to share.

Here’s the semi-buried lede: I recently had a moment where my personal and professional lives came together in glorious fashion.

Ok―on to the TL:DR part. After completing a master’s degree in health administration, bursting with hope and ambition (as well as a work wardrobe courtesy of Goodwill), I joined the Department of Veterans Affairs and began the enriching experience of serving Veterans.

It was during this period that I met my future wife who is the daughter of an Air Force Veteran and granddaughter of a Navy Veteran―both of whom chose to receive care at VA. My personal and professional lives were taking form and I knew how lucky I was to find myself at an intersection where the supply and demand for things I had to offer the world were starting to come into harmonious balance.

For the next decade-plus, I’ve been fortunate to have had seminal moments that exceeded my wildest expectations. The most recent played out during the last few months of 2022.

In November, I was invited to an event celebrating the release of Dr. Richard Stone’s book, “Save Every Life You Can,” a story about leadership at VA during the COVID-19 pandemic. As I stood in line to meet the former head of the largest integrated health care system in the country, it occurred to me that as much as I would enjoy adding an inscribed copy of the book to my collection, I could do more good by honoring my father-in-law’s service and giving the signed book as a gift.

Thankfully, Dr. Stone accommodated my request and wrote a personal message and adorned the title page with his signature.

Last week, as our family huddled around a blazing fire, I presented my father-in-law with Dr. Stone’s tome. Connecting my father-in-law’s experiences in Vietnam and VA to Dr. Stone’s leadership during the pandemic was a gift that made my holiday season special. Lucky me.

An older bald man with a white beard and glasses wearing a black Air Force t-shirt smiling and sitting on a couch holding up a book titled "Save Every Life You Can"

My father-in-law with Dr. Stone’s Book, “Save Every Life You Can”

If you’re still with me, you’re probably saying the same thing my DCG colleague Jim Herbert says, “Ok―so what?” (He’s the best!). The point is: I’ve learned there is magic in connecting people.

Calling back to “Severance,” the thrilling part of the series is to see what happens when parts of our lives are permanently segmented. The lesson I take from the show is that while we all need to disconnect from time to time, it’s people and our shared experiences that create richness in our lives. It’s why I love to cook for friends, it’s why my participation rate at DCG social events is nearly 100%, and why there’s nothing more I enjoy than walking the halls of the 8th floor of VA Central Office in a suit that fit me so well before the pandemic.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about connection and how to find the right balance between our personal and professional lives.

Connect Everyone You Can was originally published in DCG Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Read More 

This website uses cookies to improve your web experience.