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‘We’re all Americans, and this is a time to give grace’


July 3, 2020

Veteran leaders reflect on the meaning of Independence Day in today’s world

Freedom. Service. Sacrifice. These are just some of the themes America has come to embody since it began on this day 244 years ago, and they remain important in 2020, as we work to address the COVID-19 pandemic and create a more free and inclusive nation.

Although 2020 celebrations and ceremonies have changed because of social distancing, the Fourth of July remains a necessary time to reflect on what it means to be American. This year, we are honored to learn more from two Novant Health team members and military veterans, Chad Setliff and Lawrence R. Nycum, MD.

Setliff is president and chief operating officer of the greater Winston-Salem market. Prior to joining Novant Health, Setliff earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served six years as an officer in the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg and Sarajevo, Bosnia. He returned to civilian life with the rank of captain.

Nycum is senior vice president and chief clinical officer of the greater Winston-Salem market. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1992 as an ob-gyn resident in the Inactive Ready Reserve and transitioned to active duty in 1995. During his tenure, Nycum served as a fellow in gynecologic oncology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and as section chief of gynecologic oncology and vice chairman of ob-gyn at David Grant USAF Medical Center in Travis Air Force Base, where he obtained the rank of lieutenant colonel.

We asked Setliff and Nycum to share their perspective on the Fourth of July and its significance for the Novant Health community.

Q: The Fourth of July feels a little different this year with everything going on. What does Independence Day mean to you?

Setliff: For me, it’s twofold. First and foremost, as a veteran who continues to lead in a service-oriented fashion, I love this country. I think it’s a noble country, and I always remember the original vision.

The Fourth of July was a stake in the ground where we decided that collectively and individually, we wanted a society that supported rights – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in particular – for everyone equally. Today, this holiday is a good time to pause and reflect on that original vision.

I think the second part is about sacrifice. For me, it’s time to remember on all the people that have served, shed blood and ultimately died for that cause.

This year in particular, I think it’s also a good time for us to pause and think about where we are along that journey and how we can continue to support and lead toward that dream in the areas that we know we need to improve.

Nycum: TheFourth of July is extra special for me and my family. We take it as a time to reflect on how we’re all part of the same country. No matter what seems to separate and divide us, whatever the issue is, we always adapt. We always overcome, and we always get back together in some form or fashion, and the stress makes us a better country because at the end of the day, we’re all Americans. It’s incumbent upon us as leaders to make sure people understand that. We get so focused on some of the chaos going on that we lose track of how, even on a bad day, the U.S. is a pretty good place to be. I’m very proud of that.

Secondly, as a veteran, I have an uncle that’s buried at Colleville-sur-Mer. He was killed July 5, 1944, and I’ve been privileged to visit his grave on occasion. It reminds me of the sacrifice people made about 244 years ago to give this country the opportunity for freedom. I don’t use that word superficially because it is freedom. We were under tyranny at the time, and people forget that. We continue to learn from how we treat each other and evolve. There’s a lot of opportunity to better our fellow man. For all of those reasons, it’s a big day for me.

Q: What are your plans to celebrate Independence Day this year?

Setliff: For most years, we just spend time with family and friends. That’s our tradition, and typically it includes fireworks, but this year we won’t have the opportunity to see any fireworks. Hopefully, we’ll see some on TV or remotely, virtually, if you will. But we’re just taking time to pause and spend time with family and friends.

I have family members who served in WWII, Korea and other foreign expeditions. It’s always great to share stories and reflect upon their sacrifice and service, honor them and remember what each of us has done and continues to do — as servicemen and women and as citizens — to reinforce the positive aspects of the people of our country.

Nycum: We’ll take a couple of days, go to the mountains and enjoy a little cooler climate. I’ll go hiking with my wife and my dogs. I’ll probably grill some sort of meat, and I may indulge in an adult beverage.

Q: This holiday often has a restorative effect on the community, and the community has been struggling hard these last few months. Given the current events that are on everybody’s mind, do you have a few words to share with the community?

Setliff: When I was in the military, when we put the uniform on, we were one team, one mission. We came from various socioeconomic backgrounds and different ethnicities. What united us was our love for each other, the desire for each other’s well-being and ultimately our unity torch, a common vision and common mission. I think if we could take those principles now and apply them to how we live on a daily basis, it will help us find unity in a pretty challenging environment.

Nycum: At Novant Health,we’re all part of the same family. We may have different roles and responsibilities and live in different places, but we’re still part of the same team with the same mission. And we as the Novant Health family support each other. When some of us struggle, all of us struggle. We need to work to better understand and communicate what that struggle is and how we can best support each other.

To Forsyth County and the other counties that make up the greater Winston-Salem market, I think it’s a similar refrain. At the end of the day, all of us live on the same Earth, and we sometimes tend to forget that we’re all human. So, it’s important for us to sometimes take a step back to reflect on that commonality and to expect the good in people. Also, just expect that they’re coming from a good place and try to give them grace. I think we all need to give each other more grace within the current environment.

I’m very proud to work at Novant Health. We’re a beacon to others around diversity, inclusion and equity, and that gives me a lot of pride. I think we just can’t lose context of that.

Q: One way we’ve seen grace practiced within Novant Health has been through the Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine Fund (formerly the Novant Health COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund). In your view, why is supporting this fund important?

Setliff: I think everyone in this environment has been impacted. Our team’s call of duty, if you will, is here at Novant Health. This fund is a way to give back and honor their service in a time of need and also sustain them as a valued member of our community.

Nycum: When I think of the Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine Fund, this is a physical manifestation of the compassion, diversity, inclusion, teamwork, personal excellence and courage in helping our fellow Novant Health teammates. When we support the fund, we’re supporting our team, and we’re supporting our family.

Today, you can reinforce the hard work of Novant Health team members.

With a gift to the Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine fund, you can provide vital assistance to Novant Health team members in need, so they can continue keeping us safe. Donate today.

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