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A personal story on serving those who serve

Published on 11/13/2019

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

It’s been three years since my dad, former Air Force Sgt. Steven Ruoff, passed away after numerous battles with cancer. Though I no longer have him by my side, his unshakable faith, dedication to service and pure grit continue to inspire and guide me.

For 21 years, I’ve had the privilege of working for Cerner, and I’ve always been driven by the meaningful work we do. It became personal when we started working with the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to deploy a modern electronic health record (EHR).

Recently, I was explaining to my mom the progress we’re making with DOD and VA, including our waves of successful deployments of DOD’s new EHR at Travis Air Force Base. I was surprised when she told me that the military sent my dad ─ who was diagnosed with testicular cancer shortly after my mom found out she was pregnant with me ─ to Travis for treatment. Thanks to the phenomenal care he received from military providers, I was able to know my father and benefit from his example. I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not had him in my life.

In 2016, during a checkup at the Kansas City VA Medical Center, my dad was once again diagnosed with cancer. He looked me in the eye and said, “I am not done fighting.” There was that grit and determination again. A few days later, he lost his final battle. When I arrived, his care team had draped an American flag over him and placed a plaque on his door. While devastated by his loss, I’ll never forget the pride I felt that day and the gratitude I had for both DOD and VA providers who fought by his side, giving me as many days as they could with my dad.

If the innovative technology we’re deploying in DOD and VA today were available then, he might still be with us. We’re creating a longitudinal record that begins the moment a Service member raises their right hand to swear the oath of enlistment and follows them for the rest of their life. This will give providers access to data that empowers them to see a whole picture of their patients’ health and inform and drive research that could produce new treatments and cures.

Though my dad is no longer here, I strive to keep his legacy alive by living the values he instilled in me as we work to provide Service members, Veterans and their families with a lifetime of seamless care. I’m humbled and honored to have this opportunity to serve those who have served. On Veterans Day, and every day, we at Cerner strive to honor those who have served us.

It’s easy to get lost in the day to day of our lives. My dad taught me the importance of working on behalf of others for the greater good and staying focused on the mission, no matter how difficult the challenges may be. I am thankful DOD and VA have provided me a chance to do just that.

To all Veterans and their families, I am grateful for your service. You’re an example to us all. I hope the work we’re doing will honor your sacrifice.

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