By MSG John J. Beall III
With Veterans Day approaching, I would like to take this time to speak to the AHRA family and hopefully convey my gratitude to all of you. As an active duty member of the US Army I am often humbled by other AHRA members when they find out my status and say, “Thank you for your service.” I have quickly learned in my short time involved with AHRA that there is a large portion of the membership that has honorably served in the Armed Forces. I believe that they understand that when I say, “NO, Thank you!” it is done with sincerity.
I was first introduced to AHRA in 2008 by Randy Hill, the radiology director for Metroplex Health System in Killeen, Texas, while I was serving as the radiology NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge) at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Fort Hood. I was having a conversation with Randy about his military career (he is a retired Army Master Sergeant) and his subsequent transition to civilian life when he brought up AHRA. Randy explained to me that the organization was not just about completing CEUs but that there was great camaraderie amongst its members, just like the military. He also explained the importance of the Certified Radiology Administrator (CRA) credential and how it helps distinguish you as someone who has proven experience in the radiology management career field. He said at the very least to attend one of the conferences to see what the organization was all about. This is my first “Thank You.”
As luck would have it, the Army sent me on assignments outside of a fixed hospital to play in the sands of Iraq (think modern-day M*A*S*H). I finally returned to the “fixed facility” side of the house with my assignment to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas in 2012. I started my journey with AHRA that Fall when I attended the Basic Track at the Fall Conference in New Orleans, based on Randy’s recommendation. It really is a small world, and I ended up running into an old colleague who was also in attendance. Sergeant First Class (retired) Timothy Cavazos introduced me to AHRA members Mark Feeley, Shelley Wells, and Anna Choi. I must have looked like a scared puppy because they immediately included me in all of their plans and made sure I wasn’t left alone. Since that meeting I have reached out to each of them on at least one occasion to get their professional opinion, which they were more than willing to provide me. “THANK YOU.”
In late 2013 I was contacted by Mark Steffen, who was serving as the 2014 Spring Conference Design Team Chair, to see if I wanted to volunteer with the conference being held in San Antonio the following April. It was such a great volunteer opportunity, and I felt so fortunate to be part of the team with Kimberly Berry, Larry Weinreich, and Terry Lynn Bucknall. While there is a lot of work that goes into getting conferences off the ground, it was such a great experience as I was able to learn so much about leadership from the presenters and the members of AHRA. I volunteered for the next two spring conferences, which proved to be just as wonderful. Both Terry and Larry have always gone out of their way to check up on me and to see where I was in studying for my CRA, offering their books to study from and giving me that little nudge to actually take the exam. When I finally did take the exam, I didn’t do so hot (self-inflicted), but they were encouraging about it, and I am still pursuing that goal – I plan to take the exam again in the spring. “INSERT THANK YOU” – I’m starting to see a trend.
So while Veterans Day is a time spent recognizing the living veterans of our Armed Forces, I would like to also take this occasion to say “THANK YOU” to all of the members of AHRA for being so helpful and understanding of my questions. At times I feel like that little kid brother when I first arrive at an AHRA function, and I can honestly say that by the time I get back on the plane back home I have always felt like I have just had a rewarding experience. My deep appreciation is why I have stayed a member and why I volunteer with AHRA whenever I can.
“BE ALL YOU CAN BE”
A note about Veterans Day:
Veterans Day was first celebrated as “Armistice Day” and recognized the close of combat operations at the end of World War I. In legislation passed by Congress in 1938 it was made a legal holiday in the United States to honor World War I veterans. As time passed, and with the end of both World War II and the Korean Conflict, the 83rd US Congress amended the Act of 1938 by changing the name to “Veterans Day” to honor all American war veterans. It was not until 1968 that the holiday was officially celebrated as a three-day weekend for federal employees along with Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day.
The difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day: Memorial Day honors our service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country as a result of injuries suffered during battle. While these same veterans are recognized on Veterans Day, this day is also set aside to honor the contributions of the living veterans who have served in the Armed Services.
John J. Beall is the deputy commander for patient support executive noncommissioned officer at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA. He can be reached at email@example.com.