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The U.S. Department of Defense honored Gundersen Health System and two Audiology leaders for supporting a team member who serves our nation.

Milton Schmida, AuD, Audiology section head, and Brian Sieck, MD, Audiology and Otolaryngology department head, each received the Employer Support of The Guard and Reserve's (ESGR) Patriot Award, which honors leaders who support service members through flexible schedules and time off before and after deployment, among other measures.

"Supportive employers like Drs. Schmida and Sieck are vital to the success of our mission and the defense of this nation," said Mike Williams, Wisconsin ESGR chair. "The National Guard and Reserve Forces are the cornerstone of our national defense. Drs. Schmida and Sieck have provided outstanding support and have exhibited a patriotic spirit which is reflected in the significance of being a recipient of the Patriot Award."

Nominating Drs. Schmida and Sieck is Gundersen audiologist Angela Manke, Au.D., who also serves as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves. She spent most of 2019 mobilized at Fort Hood in Texas, where, as chief audiologist of the Deployment Readiness Center, she led a team that provided comprehensive hearing services to deploying and returning military service members.

Drs. Schmida and Sieck and the teams they lead supported Dr. Manke's military obligations, including during long Battle Assembly weekends, trainings and a year-long mobilization, she says.

"During my time away, they sent me updated emails, cards and care packages," Dr. Manke said. "The team, under their leadership, absorbed my clinical responsibilities, projects, outreach clinics and patients. They have done this with dedication and support for me and our service members."

Drs. Schmida and Sieck said they were honored by the award and credited colleagues with also supporting Dr. Manke.

"The military needs the support of our civilian sector," Dr. Sieck said. "The award shouldn't go to me. It should go to the department because the department stepped up when Dr. Manke stepped up to serve our country."

"Every audiologist and every technician really helped out," Dr. Schmida said. "But it's great to have Dr. Manke back."

ESGR also honored Gundersen Health System with the Seven Seals Award, which recognizes significant organizational achievement and support of employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve.

"Gundersen Health System stands proudly with its Guard and Reserve employees and other employers who continue to answer their nation's call to defend our way of life," Williams said. "Their personal sacrifices are essential to the strength of our nation."

The organization will receive the award during an ESGR annual employer awards banquet on March 28.


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