Military/veteran BERGs expanding, open for membership

In a courtyard, two people fold an American flag. A man stands at attention in front of the flag. Behind them, a row of people look on from a walkway.At Penn State Health, military veteran business and employee resource groups help organize events like this Memorial Day service at Hershey Medical Center in 2019. From left, Tammy Reichert, Ron Etheridge Sr. and Karen Nelson perform the flag-folding ceremony.

They served their country. Now employers like Penn State Health are helping veterans serve their communities.

January 26, 2022Penn State Health News

In 2017, the health system established its first military veteran business and employee resource group (BERG) to help retain veteran employees. As recruitment efforts increase across Penn State Health – which was named to Military Times’ Best for Vets: Employers list in 2021 – the importance of military veteran BERGs is growing.

The groups recognize, support and advocate for the rights and needs of military and veteran employees and patients. The BERGs foster communication among members. They organize events such as the health system’s Memorial and Veterans day celebrations and work to enhance the professional and personal advancement of employees with direct and indirect military affiliations.

Executive liaisons from each group share initiatives created by the BERGs with other senior leaders and provide recommendations to align their initiatives with organizational priorities.

The groups deliver tangible results. For example, leaders of the military veteran BERGs met in November at a Penn State football game to discuss possible initiatives ― including establishing a Veteran to Veteran program, which allows employees with military experience to visit patients with military backgrounds at Penn State Health facilities.

Today, five BERGs composed of members of the military veteran community represent each of the four regions from which Penn State Health draws patients and Lebanon County.

You can help. Staff interested in making Penn State Health facilities better places for military veteran employees, patients and their guests can join their local BERG. The groups meet virtually the last Wednesday of every month at noon. For additional information or for an invitation to an upcoming meeting, contact Dr. Hector Ortiz, the program manager for diversity and inclusion, who supports the implementation of initiatives for each of the groups.

Why is a military veteran BERG important?

The military veterans groups, like the health system’s other employee resource groups:

  • are committed to driving business outcomes, including identifying strategies for providing extraordinary patient care experiences for diverse patients and their family members
  • contribute to a sense of community for diverse employees
  • create opportunities for mentoring and career development
  • advance culture, including attracting and supporting a diverse employee base

More than 18.2 million people in the U.S were military veterans between 2015 and 2019. And, according to a 2018 article from the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families, they bring to their work a unique, tested set of skills. According to the article, military veteran attributes include:

  • comfort with autonomy and uncertainty
  • the ability to make decisions in dynamic environments
  • a strong trust in organizational leadership
  • advanced technology training
  • an ability to overcome adversity and hardship
  • a demonstrated higher level of cultural sensitivity

Who’s who in the veteran/military BERGs

Dauphin County

  • Michael Beachler, systems engineer, Penn State Health Shared Services
  • Justin Heinrich, Trauma Program manager (currently deployed until April 2022), Hershey Medical Center
  • Eddie Keller, program manager – Medical Staff Office, Hershey Medical Center, chair the Dauphin Region military and veteran BERG.
  • Marv Smith, assistant vice president of facilities, Penn State College of Medicine, is the executive liaison.

Berks County

  • AnnMarie Haus, organizational development consultant, Penn State College of Medicine
  • Liz Nagle, licensed practical nurse, Penn State Health Medical Group, Community Practice Division
  • Mark Atkinson, system program manager, Penn State Health Shared Services

Lancaster County

  • AnnMarie Haus, organizational development consultant, Penn State College of Medicine
  • Carol Potteiger, respiratory care practitioner, Hershey Medical Center

West Shore/Cumberland

  • Shyanne Ward, medical assistant, Penn State Health Medical Group – Colonial Park
  • Christopher Lohr, lead advanced practice provider, Penn State Health Medical Group — Lemoyne
  • Kim Keiter, patient access coordinator, Holy Spirit Medical Center


(Unlike the BERGs established for other populations such as employees with disabilities, LGBTQ employees, and multicultural employees, the military veteran BERG has a group in the Lebanon region)

  • Zachary Edelstein, logistics coordinator, Penn State Health Shared Services
  • Angie Sellers, patient client support services representative, Penn State Health Shared Services
  • Ann Cortez, cyber security senior project manager, Penn State Health Shared Services

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