Enterprise Military Day

May 17, 2023

Mayo Clinic's Military Medicine Program hosted an Enterprise Military Day on May 17, 2023. The day was in honor of Mayo Clinic's commitment to our nation's military — past, present and future. The day featured a special carillon performance, two guest speakers and tables set up in Phoenix, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The tables highlighted Mayo's history with the military as well as what the Military Medicine Program is doing today and plans for the future. View the Mayo Clinic Military Medicine: Past, Present, and Future display (PDF).

2023 Enterprise Military Day guest speakers

Guest speakers were the current Military Medicine education fellow, George L. Tillman, III, on his unlikely path to medicine and the world-renowned inspirational speaker, John O'Leary, on living inspired.

[Melissa Barr] Good afternoon and welcome to Mayo Clinic Military Medicine Day 2023. Today's event is truly in honor of those who have served -- past, present and future. I have the honor of facilitating today's event. My name is Melissa Barr and I serve as the Operations Administrator for Military Medicine and for Quality Academy for the enterprise. Just to give you a little bit of background on Military Medicine here at Mayo Clinic. Our primary goal is to provide cutting-edge medical education to our military and government agency teams utilizing world- class educators. Our team creates and delivers unique advanced medical education, deploying a vast array of modeling and simulation tools. We also partner with practice and research to advance treatment options, education programs, and develop products that directly impact our military members as well as our patient population. We strive to be the most trusted and effective collaborator with the Department of Defense and related military agencies by integrating and coordinating real world solutions in partnership with our outstanding clinicians, educators, and scientists. To learn a little bit more about military medicine here at Mayo Clinic, I will drop a link to our intranet site where you can find more information if you'd like. Now, I would like to proudly introduce one of our two keynote speakers for today, George Tillman. After his retirement from the US Armed Special Forces, George joined us as our education fellow and has been with us for nearly a year now. George serves as the conduit between Mayo Clinic and the US and international military medicine community it serves. He has a true passion for military-related medical education and following his fellowship, his plans are to apply to medical school. So George, welcome. [George Tillman] Hello, my name is George Tillman. I'm an educational fellow with Military Medicine here at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. Today I want to talk about my unlikely path to medicine. So I grew up in New York City in some decent and not so decent areas throughout the city, but predominantly in Queens and Brooklyn. The oldest of five boys, actually what's funny is in my bow tie pics down there, my mom said, hey, you're going to wear this bow tie. She essentially held me down and made me wear it. I replied with, well, I'm not going to smile in my picture, so I didn't. And then she made me do it again, and then she threatened me and told me to smile. So that's why you have the before and then the after. But either way, I grew up there, graduated from high school, and then post-graduation, something amazing happened. I don't even know how we afforded or how we made this work, but I was afforded the opportunity to go to Fiji for eco tourism and ended up living in three villages with some other high school students. And I was hooked at that point in time. And I didn't know how to do it, but I was hooked on travel, culture, language. And I knew I wanted more of it. But I also wanted a challenge at that point in my life. So that sent me down a path to the Marine Corps. So I ended up leaving home at 18 and joining the United States Marine Corps. So I was shipped out and then arrived at Parris Island, South Carolina, and standing on those yellow footsteps there. But after three months of boot camp and training, I was a United States Marine. Right after that, I was shipped over to Pensacola, Florida, to start some aviation electronic school and then Camp Pendleton, California, after that to specifically work on Cobra Huey helicopters. And I got my first duty station which was at New River, MCAS New River in North Carolina, which is the same town as Camp Lejeune. After a little bit, I end up doing my first deployment with the 22nd MEU, or Marine Expeditionary Unit, on the USS Nassau. But that ended up being a pleasure cruise. This is pre-9/11, and we'd end up spending a month in France and a month in Italy, a month in Croatia, several weeks in Malta, Spain and some other countries. It was an amazing time to check the block on traveling. But we returned from that MEU in May of 2001 and didn't know that a couple of months later that everything would change for the way the military was to operate. So I was working on aircraft doing a job I've probably done 100 times with no issues. But for whatever reason on this day, I was just having all of the issues. I was dropping nuts, I was dropping tools, it was not going well. But either way, one of my buddies comes running out of the hangar to me and says, hey, Tillman, a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. And I thought, well, it is pretty tall, but then I thought, oh my God, I have so many family members that are working, either in that building or around that building, or in the city or something like that. So I rushed into the hangar and ran upstairs to the staff duty desk. And once I get my eyes on the TV, we watched the second plane go in and we thought, this was planned. And then from that moment, I think everyone kind of realized that everything for the military had changed from that point and for America in general. So then came the invasion to Afghanistan, which I did not go on. I just supported in just supplying and helping with the aircraft. And then my next deployment was with 24thMEU, kind of like the other deployment I did. We left in August and it was a very different deployment this time as we were in the war- fighting age of the military. And steak and lobster, I boil those deployments down to steak and lobster. So if ever we saw a steak and lobster and it wasn't the Marine Corps birthday or it wasn't like New Year's or something like that, or Thanksgiving, we knew we were getting bad news. The first time we saw steak and lobster, we got extended on the boat. Supposed to be a six- month deployment. We left in August. They didn't know when we were going back, but we got steak and lobster. And then they told us the second time we got steak andlobster. Fast forward a little bit further down the line. And this time it was the Marine Corps had issued a stop loss, which means no one can get out of the Marine Corps for any reason until they lift the stop loss. So I was just stuck in the Marine Corps. And then the invasion of Iraq looks like it was going to happen, but we were told we weren't going to go. We just happened to be in the Persian Gulf when we got the word that we were not going to the invasion. So we left the Persian Gulf and then we got into the Red Sea and headed towards the Suez Canal. And then come upstairs from our berthing area and, steak and lobster. And then we get told we're going to the invasion. So we went back out of the Red Sea, back into the Persian Gulf, and then did the invasion, which for us, lasted for about a month. And then we headed home and we got back to North Carolina in May. A six-month deployment turned into a ten-month deployment. Most of that time being out at sea. And then eventually the Marine Corps, about a month later, lifted the stop loss and gave me about a month to figure out my affairs and then get out of the Marine Corps. So I didn't have a plan, I didn't know what I was going to do, and ended up just moving back to New York for a bit to try to figure things out. So I moved back to New York City with no plan or really any direction or anything like that. Um, ended up getting a job working on trains full time for the Long Island Railroad and going to college full time at the same time, and half staying in a dorm and half staying in my grandmother's basement. But then I get a call from a buddy and he said, hey, they have these civilian contracts out in Iraq working on helicopters. Army helicopters. And I thought, yeah, I'll do that and it's going to make me more money and I get to get out of New York City for a bit. So I did, and I think that was probably one of the big turning points in my life and one of the most important things that's ever happened to me. And I met a guy who worked on the same team named Damien and he told me his what-if story. So, we've been working together for several months now and always talking about like he wanted to do something with special operations or something like that, but I didn't necessarily know what that meant or what it was. But I was enjoying doing the contracting work and making some money. Well, his what-if story was, he always wanted to be a cop, but then he started chasing money and if he would have just become a cop, he would be making the same amount of money as a cop, doing something that he enjoyed versus him doing a job just for money. And that really stuck with me. But then he also told me, hey, you should check out special forces. And I thought, I don't know what that is, what is that? Navy SEALs or something like that. He's like, just go look it up. So I go to an internet cafe and I look it up and the job descriptions were perfect. It was exactly what he wants to do. Learn a language, you learn a job. The jobs going through was a Weapon Sergeant, which was an 18 Bravo. And I thought, yeah, anyone can learn how to work on weapons. And then it was an engineer was like I already know how to build stuff and blowing stuff up, it's great, but it's not going to do anything for me after this. Then I hit 18 Delta, which is a special forces medic. And the laundry list of things that you can do as a special forces medic was amazing to me. Immediately I thought this is what I want, this is what I want to do. Then finally, I looked at 18 Echo which was a communications sergeant. And I thought that was a terrible idea and a terrible job to have. So I didn't choose that from that point on. I said I was going to reenlist into the military this time going into the army and I wanted to be an 18 Delta. And I would do whatever it took to do that. But prior to, I still had some things I wanted to do outside of the military. I moved back to New York, for a bit, I built a car, I moved to Ecuador and Peru for about half a year, and then I finished my associates and ultimately I end up re-enlisting in the military. This time in the Army as an 18 x ray, kind of open contract to go to selection for special forces in August of 2007. So shipped off yet again for the military, this time for the Army. So I ended up having a four-year gap from 2003 in 2007, but I went to Fort Benning, Georgia, initially for Infantry Basic and Airborne School which was a static line paratrooper school -- picture in the top right. I also met my wife there, which we get ended up getting married years after that. But after that I went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where I started 18 x ray course, which is just a prep course to get you ready for special forces assessment and selection. Go through selection, get selected, extremely happy about it, motivated to do whatever. I was going to be a Green Beret. I knew it was set in stone at that point for me in my mind. But then you have the conversation of what job you're going to have as a Green Beret. And so Sar. Major comes up which is the highest enlisted rank you can have in the military. And he goes, so, we're going to give you 18 Echo and Spanish. Which makes sense because I was an avionics man and the Marine Corps and I lived in South America for half a year. So I spoke Spanish. And before my brain I can process what was happening, I blurted out, No. And he looked at me like I was a crazy person and I had to explain like, I mean, no disrespect, Sar. Major, but I came into the Army to be an 18 Delta and to speak Arabic. He explained to me that no one ever does that, and this is a longer course and a longer period. And then I told him, this is what I wanted to do. This is what I came into do. Now, if the only option in what the Army actually needs is a communications guy, I will do that. But I will immediately get out and go back to my six-figure job. And he said, okay, I'll change it. With that, I was going to be an 18 Delta and have Arabic, which is great. Then I started the qualification course, which is just training you up to essentially make you a Green Beret. You do, you do small unit tactics and things of that nature. But then you start the 18 Delta course which is the actual course for your job, specifically. And, the amount of things that you learned in that course over a year, it's all of medicine, in a year. So, you learn about trauma, nursing, dental, field surgery, veterinarian care, all of it which was amazing. And it's very wave- top of medicine, you don't know all of physiology and all of those things that are below the waves, but you know enough to help some people along. And then you finish up with some language, which I ended up doing a year of language, which was modern standard Arabic and then Iraqi dialect. So six months of modern standard and six months of Iraqi dialect. And then I finally got some orders and I found out I was going to Fifth Special Forces Group in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. So my arrival to my team at Fort Campbell was not the best. I'd taken probably a year or so off of doing any sort of medicine between language school and the rest of the course. So I was a bit rusty with medicine. But the helpful portion was that I had a great team that was around me to allow me to figure that out. End up being the senior medic on the team. Ended up getting a junior at some point in time, a couple of months later who was just fresh out. Of course, probably better at medicine, but I had more time in service. But either way, with this great team in this family that we built, really prepared us through our train-up for our first deployment, which happened to be in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. If you know anything about Helmand Province, it's a very volatile area in Afghanistan. And anyone that's ever deployed there knows you're going to get into a fight at some point in time, if not all of the time. So when I arrived to Helmand and we took over a camp, I learned some things about myself. Probably the biggest thing I learned was like I loved educating and training people in medicine. The second I started doing it, just like this snowball effect, it was like, I want to do this more and I want to continue to do this. But I also enjoyed operating. I love getting out there and walking around with my kit and taking the fight to the enemy. It was great. It was exhilarating. It was exactly what I wanted to do when I discussed it years prior with my buddy Damien in Iraq as a civilian contractor. But with that, there's some ups and there's some downs with deployments like that. The picture there in the center of saluting, It's saluting with another friend, one of our fallen brethren that we lost once we got into country. And then little did I know from this picture, a month later, I would be pulling my buddy through a minefield and putting a crike in and doing a finger thoracostomy to save his life. And then doing a medical evacuation of him during a full blown firefight. Fast forward, ten days later, Marine Corps birthday, having a great time, wishing everyone a happy birthday and we get caught in an ambush. And the dog depicted there in the top right, he, I'd go and say he saved my life. He just happened to be behind me when the grenade rounds came in. I took some shrapnel and he took some, but he took the brunt of it. While dealing with the mask how, and then packaging him up, he was able to make it back to a higher level of care. But ultimately he didn't make it. My buddy in the picture below, he did make it. And we still talk to this day. But with those ups and downs and all of those trials and things of that nature, the mission still goes on. We're still out there patrolling, we're still doing medical care, which I really had this great opportunity to work with patients and work with patients from another culture I had never even met before, as in the Afghans. We were able to treat 1,000 patients in our clinic over that eight-month deployment and then do approximately 30 trauma evacuations. So I really got to learn a lot, through hands-on, about medicine and everything like that. Fast forward a couple of months, I'm doing a refresher course back at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for medicine. And I just happened to sit in on the recruitment brief for Special Mission Unit and it was something that I knew I wanted to do. I wanted more out of medicine, I wanted more operationally, and they had the answer. So I find myself sending in an email to the recruiters saying, hey, I have some questions And then the reply back was, go ahead and fill out your packet, you're ready to go. And I was like, oh, I just wanted, I just wanted information. I ended up filling out the packet and then going onto a hiring board. I arrived back to North Carolina to Fort Bragg, do a hiring board to see if I was a fit for the unit and end up getting hired on, took about a year to do some paperwork and things of that nature for the Army, and then finally got to PCS or moved back to Fort Bragg with my family where I started Assault Medic Course immediately after arriving. And it was the first time that I really was starting to think about medicine. And that's how we were trained to think about the things that we were doing, the procedures we were doing, but also plan care from start to finish. So not just I have a casualty and I put him on an aircraft and then he goes away and then that's it. But I have a casualty and I've placed other surgical assets in the area. So I know it's going to take me 20 min to get him there and move things around the battlefield. So it was an amazing point in time in the medical career because I had now kind of reached the pinnacle as an enlisted medical provider within the military. Essentially, top 1% of medics and I was there with them. That felt amazing. After Assault Medic Course I went to the shooting course where we shoot tens of thousands of rounds and that was a great time. And then you are off to freefall course or sky diving course down in Marana, Arizona, which was a great time, and three weeks of fun essentially, after it was all said and done. Finally I was ready to go to my squadron and be a medic for my guys, which was about 30- plus individuals. And I started having those opportunities to go to civilian medical courses. Not necessarily just military ones, but civilian ones as well. And one of them just happened to be at Mayo, with Military Medicine. Going there, it's a lot of information. It was great to grasp that kind of stuff, and going to that course really helped me in follow-on deployments, once I started deploying with my unit. Which, my two deployments with them were to Syria. My first one out, was a brand new medic with my team. And we're really doing that push to Raqqa to really take it to Isis and kick them out of Syria. And as we're doing that, I remember the day clearly, it's my daughter's birthday and it starts to rain in the desert, which makes everything this soppy mess. And then I get a call, hey Doc, we got three patients coming in. I'm like, okay. So I prepare my makeshift ambulance which was a Toyota Land Cruiser. And then I heard, hey Doc, we got two patients coming in. And then about 10 min later, hey Doc, we have one patient coming in. It's been about 30 min and I'm thinking in my head, all right, it's probably something minor for them to survive for 30 min and then make it back. When they arrived and I opened the door, I knew I was completely wrong about that. Her shirt was completely covered in blood and I was like, this is going to take a lot. But fortunately for us, we had 3 18 Deltas at the same location, which never ever happened. So I pull her out of the thing, we get some tarps up to cover her a little bit so we can cut her clothes off and see what we're dealing with. And essentially, she had a through and through in the right side of her chest out the left side. So we started patching her up and I looked over at the commander. I said, I need to take her. If I give her over to someone else, she's not going to make it. He agreed. We were all invested in this patient. At that time, we loaded her up into my Land Cruiser and we started the 13 kilometer drive for the surgical unit that I set up. So we get back there. She spoke Kurdish. I spoke English, Spanish, and Arabic. So our communication was going to be very slim at that point. But I was able to tease out her name was Avin, and essentially how we went through with treatments was, I would say her name and then I would point to the thing I was going to use, say, external IO device. I would point to it and then I would point to where it was going to go. And then she would either give me a thumbs up or like a head nod and then I would do the procedure. Then I would check in with her after that. We rode around like that for a little bit through the desert and then we end up getting stuck in the mud for, I don't know how long, but we were definitively stuck in mud and I just continued to do treatments. The driver's trying to figure it out, finally gets a bulldozer to pull us out. We continue on. Fast forward a little bit, we get to another spot, and our whole French counterpart section, they're all slid off the road and the road is just sopping. They tried to convince us that we can go around, but we decided not to play that game again. They looked to me for an answer and I said, hey, we're going to carry her. I could see the CCP at this time, we're probably about a kilometer away. So what we did is essentially we pulled her out, had her on a litter. We ran across this muddy, sloppy mess and field essentially for about 500 meters, and then put her on the back of a pickup truck on the other side of the sloppy mess. And then drove her the rest of the way to the CCP, which she ended up making it. So we finished up, wrapped up, gave my hand off to the surgical team, headed back to where our team was staged in the desert. And they officially, most of the team came up and said you are definitely our medic. And one, I didn't know I wasn't their medic, but I guess I proved myself that day that I was capable of doing something amazing, I suppose. Then talking to the commander later and he said, hey, how long do you think you were doing that? And I thought, I don't know, an hour or so. He said you were with her for 5 hours. And that kind of blew my mind. And I kind of really take that as, Mayo really kind of helped me along with that. Because it was okay to not do treatments and do assessments, and then sometimes it was okay to do treatments, but to have that thought process and that confidence to do it definitely came from a lot of the courses that I took while at Mayo. Second instance, on my second trip to Syria. A bit of a shorter story on this, but I had to deal with a pretty difficult mask- how situation on my next trip. And having the training and going through the sodum courses and things of that nature really helped me to -- a lot of my medicine and practices prior to were gut feelings and then doing procedures. But was this is kind of like a time where I had that gut feeling, but then I could back it up with definitive physiology and things of that nature. Um, so it helped me live with that decision and it also helped me make that decision, made it set a clear line for me like, hey, this is what we're going to do. And it's helped me along the way to just have that knowledge and not have to think, well, what if it was something else. But, so after those two trips, it was time for me to go into a senior position. So I moved over to a senior slot within the unit. So when I left my squadron and I landed that senior medical advisory position, it just happened to be CRBN medicine, or Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear medicine. And it was basically focused on the medical care countermeasures, both fielding and developing, but also utilization of countermeasures for those type of agents. And then testing equipment just to make sure that we were postured in the correct way. But also we ran a CBRN course for ourself, medical providers, two times a year. And I was one of the lead planners and trainers for that as well. But even with that, I wanted to do something else. And it hit me the day I was going out to do a skydive with my team. And this day was supposed to be great because we were going out of a helicopter instead of a normal plane, which is a bit more exciting. And when I went off the ramp, I just thought, yeah, not an enthusiastic yeah, but a yeah in the sense that, okay, this is happening, but it wasn't the greatest thing that ever happened, which was weird, and it was different for me. And at that moment, I knew I should start thinking about retirement. I wanted to do something else. And then I looked back on my career and what the high points for me were besides doing the operational stuff. Medicine was always a high point. So from that moment I kind of looked at becoming a doctor and going to medical school. Overall, I thought, I had experience, I had a lot more to give to medicine and to the community, but alsoI had a lot to learn and a lot of medical knowledge gaps that I wanted to fill in. But overall, I just wanted to help. So with that, I started looking at Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, to help out in the best way that I can. So upon arrival to Mayo Clinic, I'm working with the educational fellowship. Dr. Noel, immediately, we sat down and had a discussion. He wanted to run a CBRN-focused course, which we pinpointed on a critical care course as there wasn't another one that either of us knew of. We ran the course and it ended up being wildly successful. In this picture alone, to the top left, we ran a mass casualty event, where in that picture we have medical providers from the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and from State Department, FBI, and then faculty from either Phoenix or Rochester. A lot of things going on in that place with also some docs and some other help from U of A, additionally. Beyond that course, running about 13 courses a year, which gives me time to give back to my military peers by helping with relevance for the courses and then also liaising and figuring out what's best for them. But on the civilian side of that, it's something I've never had time to do while I was in the military. I'm able to volunteer with Big Brother and Big Sister, mentor a eight year old named JoJo. Things are going great. He's a great little kid. It's been really great to mentor him. But also with some community outreach. The bottom left picture in the middle, picture on the bottom, we're doing a short stop-the-bleed class for some teachers at one of the local elementary schools. Then on the bottom right, we did like a blood transfusion with some third graders, makeshift blood transfusion. But the key there was like math and it was just great to work with them and help them figure out that stuff out. But also in this picture here, we turned it into a competition. We're competing with another team on giving that blood back. But all of that said, I still have, I feel, one more hurdle and I need to answer that what-if question. So that leads me on to studying for the MCAT and prepping for med school. Overall, thank you to the team that I have there that really brought me under their wing and allowed me to be a part of the Mayo family. Thank you everyone else for allowing me to tell my story on this amazing path and arc that I've had towards medicine. [Melissa Barr] Thank you so much, George, both for your service and for sharing your personal journey with us all today. I welcome you to reference the link to the Internet site on Military Medicine here at Mayo Clinic to find more information regarding our Helmsley Fellowship program, which George is a part of currently. If you want to navigate to the homepage link, you can click on Education below and follow two of the fellowship links respectively, on that page. Now I would like to introduce our final keynote speaker for today, John O'Leary. Consider what if one message could change your life? What if one person could provide hope that the best is yet to come? This person I hope for you today is John O'Leary. As a nine year old little boy, John was burned on 100% of his body and was given less than 1% chance to live. His amazing journey of survival illustrates the incredible power of the human spirit. John is a business owner, a writer, a husband, a father of four, Once expected to die, now, teaching others how to truly live today. John is the author of the national bestselling books On Fire and In Awe. He's the host of the top- rated Live Inspired podcast. And he's an inspirational speaker who has taught millions of people around the world how to truly live inspired. I am one of those who've had the chance to hear John speak in person at a conference just this last year. And I am so grateful that he is here with us today. John 0 Leary. Welcome. And thank you so much for sharing your message with us. [John O'Leary] Hello, Mayo Clinic leaders, family, friends, colleagues. My name, as you just heard is John O'leary. It is an absolute delight to be with you to celebrate our veterans, Armed Force celebration, and also the work that you do through the Mayo Clinic to make such a mighty difference for those serving our nation. It is profound. Today, we celebrate you. When you hear an introduction like the one just offered up, it's possible to think that from a young age, John O'Leary dreamed of becoming a motivational speaker, or an author, or a podcast host. Yet let me be very clear with you today that none of those things are true. None of those things are true at all. When you are at age nine, burned on 100% of your body, and you spend five and a half months in hospital, and you go through dozens of surgeries, and you lose your fingers due to amputation, and you end up in a wheelchair for about a year and a half, your dream is not one day to speak at the Mayo Clinic. Your dream one day is not to stand on big stages with a bright light and a microphone in your hand. Your dream, friends, colleagues, family. Your dream is to be ordinary. That's the grand goal of my life. Not to live inspired, not to be exceptional, not to stand out. It's to be ordinary. My dream was that when Mother pushed me into a room, that people would not stare at me. That was my dream. My dream was that one day I'd be able to throw a baseball again. That was my dream. My dream was one day I'd be able to go back to school, maybe have friends, maybe get a job. That was the dream and I lived that version of the dream for a pretty long time, about 19 years after being burned. I'm going to put the picture of that little boy back up on the screen. 19 years after the event that changed that little boy's life, my life began to change too. I got a phone call, reached into my pocket, I'm wearing a pair of blue jeans at the time, I work in construction, if you can imagine. Grab the phone. Flip the thing open. So Mayo Clinic, it's been a minute. Flip the thing open. I say hello and a little voice says, Mr. O'Leary. And I say, well, let me get you my dad's number, and she goes, No, Mr. O'Leary, your daddy gave me your number. Would you speak at my school? About what? That's the question. She said, Mr. O'Leary, I heard when you were nine years old you were burned on 100% of your body. Would you share that story with my school? So Mayo Clinic and servants. And for those of you who have served, veterans, we're grateful for you. I have this little voice in one ear saying, will you serve? And I say back an important word when an opportunity to serve those shows up in your life. And that word is you're ready for it. Yes. So I said yes to this little girl, immediately regretted it. Practiced my talk for gosh, at least 40 hours. Walked into this room, stood behind a podium, never looked up at those little monsters. But that's my first speech, that's my first opportunity to serve. At the very end, when I finally did look up, that's when I saw who this formerly little boy was now looking up into. He's looking up at these little girls. Man, there were three Girl Scouts in the room. That's the first audience. Wasn't even paid with a box of Samoas, but that's the first. You don't forget the first, do you? Went on to a second and a third and a fourth and have had the opportunity and the honor over the last almost 20 years of speaking in 49 states, more than a dozen countries, a couple million people, live. Sharing a story with some pretty large audiences. Mostly about their story, about their life, and about the truth, that the best was yet to come. My friends, my favorite audience though, isn't the big stages. It's this room. I have an opportunity, actually by chance, this week, of speaking out here. This is called Focus Marines. These are the ladies and gentlemen, not just Marines, from all Armed Forces who have served our nation, received wounds. Some of them physical, all of them emotional in one way or another. And come home looking for something that they may have lost serving forward. They show up and for eight days or so, we have an opportunity of thanking and serving, and encouraging and loving these amazing human beings. Mayo Clinic, that's what we get to do too, it's what you do, but it's also what we get to strive to do. My favorite night is on Monday nights when we hear from the ladies who've been serving us meals the entire time. These ladies look a little bit like these three. There's usually four or five, sometimes a few more. Even in that room, we've been receiving their goodness from the food they prepare. But on Monday nights, when they share with us part of what attracts them, and you hear my emotion right now, part of what attracts them in is they're all Gold Star Mothers. They've all lost a son or daughter serving our nation. At least half of those ladies who are preparing the food for us have lost a child due to suicide. It's a very emotional night for the men and women gathered who've been receiving the food and now recognize the quality of the chefs preparing it. People who understand the pain, people who are trying to make a difference to one of the individuals who they have served this delicious food to, is pictured right here. This is my buddy, man. His name is Todd Nicely. Corporal Todd Nicely. Todd and I met at Focus Marines. He's an amazing human being. He and I are now dear friends. He served our nation, two different tours. Before he went back for his second tour, he had a large, almost five-inch tattoo, letters, going across the back. What he had on his back were these words, Mayo Clinic: Your Choices Change Lives. He wanted the ladies and gentlemen following in line behind him as they followed him forward up the hill and back home safely to recognize that their choices change lives. Your choices change lives. Today, you and I have a little bit of time to hang out together, but as I go through this story of both Todd Nicely and John O'Leary, but more than that, the story of your work and your service and your medical care and the way you serve your patients. And for our veterans in the room, for the way you served our nation. For those of you who are educating our medics and our servants. For those of you who are inspiring the nation, choices change lives. Underline that one. Wherever you're taking notes right now, I'll have a sip of coffee while you do it. All right, your choices change lives. So Todd Nicely leads his group into repeated battles. He's coming home safely from one of them. And as he's getting ready to approach a bridge, he steps on an IED, massive explosion. It certainly is going to change this man's life. He's going to wake up a moment or two after the explosion and immediately see that he's bleeding from almost every part of his body. He immediately begins barking out orders, calls in a helicopter evacuation. One thing he remembers though, is he tried to stay calm because he did not want the last thing that the guys he served with to see him being nervous, him freaking out. He wanted them to recognize something important about their life. And it is this, Your choices change lives. Your choices change lives. When he finally did wake up, he wakes up back in the United States. Everyone gathered around him is crying. It's his family, it's his siblings. They're crying, which is an unusual thing, but he can see right away that they're crying. Happy tears. They're crying because a man who is now unable by himself to move his arms or his legs, at least he's alive. Todd Nicely, in that IED explosion, lost almost everything. He lost his left arm and his right arm, his left leg and his right leg. But he did not lose the truth that he still was alive. He still was loved. His life still did matter. Your choices change lives. His family was there to remind him of that. Then, Mayo Clinic, as we get ready to pivot away from Todd Nicely, who teaches me about resiliency and courage, and service, and love, back into you, and back into your work, and back into your families, and back toward your patients. There's one more part of the story that you need to hear. Eventually, the bright light of the attention that Todd received as he recovered went away. Eventually, the care that he was receiving from his doctors, nurses as clinicians, his therapist, his chaplains, his social workers, the folks who prepped his food and cleaned his room, the entire village -- Mayo Clinic, it takes a village does it not? As they begin to fade into the background and his family begins to return to their normal life and the bright lights of the media begin to turn their attention from Todd to other stories. He finds himself alone and afraid, and sad, and struggling, and in pain, emotional and physical. He makes a choice that's going to change his life again. A choice to attempt to take his own life. I want to put this impression back on the screen one more time, but it's really important uou and I recognize that, that our choices change lives. Todd Nicely was incredibly fortunate to survive this attempted suicide. When he woke up this time, family was still gathered around him. This time they still were crying, but this time the tears weren't happy. They were sad and they were discouraged. And they were distraught. And they knew that they had to do more with and for this gentleman. And so the promise was made bedside that day to walk forward toward life together. They wanted Todd again to be reminded that his, and their, and Mayo Clinic, our collective choices change lives. Todd Nicely, as you might imagine, is one of the most remarkable, redeemed, powerful human beings I know. When we go out to celebrate our veterans together, Todd Nicely is always in that room, reminding them not only the physical wounds. Those scars heal up pretty quickly, the emotional wounds. He wants to remind them that there's still possibility and victory ahead for them. He wants to remind them, family, that their choices change lives. Todd nicely is now sober. He is now addicted to the truth that the best is yet to come. He's an amazing human being and today he's going to walk forward with us, reminding us on the journey that your choices, yours and mine do indeed make a difference. They do indeed change lives. And so Mayo Clinic family, friends. As we step together into this program today, I'm going to remind you loud and clear repeatedly as we celebrate our veterans, as we celebrate our Armed Forces, as we celebrate the work that you all do to equip them, to not only go forward with opportunities to keep their guys safe, but to bring them back safe. Choices change lives. Choices change lives. So I'm going to walk you down a pathway of one way to go through making choices in life. And then I want to give you a separate pathway, one that's far more victorious, one that's going to allow you to not only personally have a better life, but to be a better leader at the Mayo Clinic. Family, friends. Roll up the sleeves, put the stethoscope down, put the syringe down, come on. Put a step away from work for a moment. For a moment, be selfish. That's part of what we celebrate today, your work. If you're out there forward, it's hard to be focused on you. I want you to be focused on you during this time slot. Just take a moment for you. Here we go. When we struggle, if and when we choose to give our power up to the explosions of life, whether that's an IED, or a fire, or a diagnosis, or a bad headline, or the headwind, or a storm, or a neighbor's opinion of your life, when you choose to become a victim to your circumstances, I find there are three questions I ask. I'm going to put them on the screen and implore you, don't write these down. Do not remember them. They're not healthy, they're not helpful. Here we go. Question number one, that will steal your joy and your power, and your ability to make choices that elevate your life is, Why me? Because when we ask this, we almost always follow with the question of indifference, Who cares? And then finally, we tap out with a third and the final question, which is, class? What more can I do? But today, I want to give you three far more life- giving questions. Are you ready for them? Yes or no? All right. This is a two way screen. I'm actually, it's like the Wizard of Oz. I'm right behind the curtain. Like if you could just yeah, there he is. He's like a puppet man. I'm right behind this little screen making O'Leary do the song and the dance. So today, as we invite you to participate, I encourage you, do it. You'll get far more from our time together and more than that, others will get far more from you when you return to your normal life. Let me give you right now three far better questions. I'll give you a moment to grab your pen. All right, here we go. Question number one, that will give you joy, that will spark possibility, will remind you how firm the foundation is and the truth that the best is yet to come. Are you ready for it? Mayo Clinic? You may want to write it down. Here we go. It's a great one. Why me? Eyes to see and ears that hear and hearts that beat free. Thank you veterans. An opportunity to identify what's busted and broken, but also a chance to make it better. This is a question focused and hovering all around gratitude, which allows us to rise, attack the day, uncross our arms, ask the second question, which is, class? Who cares? This is around living out your purpose and your mission, and your meaning and your values. Which allows you to finish strong by asking the third and the final question. Anybody want to guess what the third and the final question is? Let me put it back up on the screen. What more can I do? Do you see a similarity between those two sets of questions, yes or no? Turns out, class, that the manner in which you choose to ask a question will influence what you see, how you feel, what you think, how you behave, how you speak, what you pray about, what you fight for, what you surrender to, the words you speak, the actions you take, the way you heal, and the results you get. So as you're walking the halls in Jacksonville, Phoenix, Minnesota, separate organizations in Wisconsin and around the country and around the world. Awesome. I want to just spend a couple of minutes reminding you of the power, your choices. Not only physically like picking up a cup of coffee, grabbing a pen, stepping up and responding to a call in the hallway, fine. But these choices, your choices, change lives. And so today to empower us to take the next right step forward along the journey, it was hard to even figure out how to spend this time with you, but I think we're going to spend the majority of it just spending some time on this question: What more can I do? So I want to share with you a veteran story. A gentleman who showed up in my life in a mighty way. What he did, how he served, the impact he had, ultimately, what it means for you. You ready? Yes or no? All right. Looking back at your own life, have you ever done anything that you now realize was a big mistake? One of you. Let me be more specific. Looking back at last night, did you do anything that you now realize as a big mistake? All the time. When I was a little guy, I grew up in the Midwest. So those of you up in Minnesota, if you hop in a little canoe and just paddle downstream, the old mighty Mississippi for a little bit, eventually after you go through Iowa, you'll hit Missouri. And if you keep on going, you'll see the Arch on the right, St. Louis, Missouri. That's my hometown, Welcome home. I saw kids in my neighborhood playing with fire and gasoline. And I figured if these kids could do it, so could I? Why not me? Let's go. So that weekend, it's on. My parents are at work. The house is mine. I walk into the garage. Light a piece of cardboard, walk over to a can of gasoline. Five gallons, 42 pounds. Try to put a little bit of gasoline on this piece of paper that is aflame. This is the actual picture. Before the gasoline came out, the fumes created a massive explosion. Picked me up and launched me 20 feet against the far side of the garage. This explosion, the resulting burns, absolutely and utterly changed my life. One moment, I'm a happy and healthy and -- just being honest with you -- extremely good looking -- It's okay man, the truth will set you free. And then in the next moment, and I want to make sure I see you so you can see my sincerity behind this. This is going to be hard to look at. You may want to shut your eyes for a moment. I know many of us are used to rounding in difficult situations, used to serve in our medical community, but this is still hard to look at. If you want to shut your eyes, feel free. But this little boy, nine years old, found himself radically changed with burns now. On 100% of his body, and he's dying. 87% of those burns were third degree. There's so much in this story to share, but I want the story to be around a veteran's service. So I'm going to skip over some of the details of what happened at my house, what happened in the ambulance, what happens in the emergency room. Needless to say, my parents did come into the ER. They were incredibly sweet and faithful, and beautiful and loving to me, and yet very quickly realized they needed others to guide them forward. There is, as you might imagine, an incredible medical story. There's an incredible physician, there's an incredible team. There's incredible technicians and nurses, and an elite group of ladies and gentlemen who supported a little boy. It takes the entire village, Mayo Clinic. But rather than focusing on them, I want to focus on someone who came and served not only my mom and dad and John O'Leary, the patient, but also the entire staff. Because sometimes staff, Mayo clinic, veterans, friends. Sometimes we need to be encouraged, don't we? This is the story of one person, just one. Because one person can in fact change the world. Who showed up, supported, changed my family's life and mine, but also yours. So here we go. The day after I'm burnt, I'm laying in a hospital bed tied down. I can't move my arms or my legs, so that's difficult. Okay. I can't move my arms or my legs. My lungs had been burned, so they put a hole right about here. See it? Right about here. You can still see the scar now. Now I can breathe. It's called a trach. But I can't eat or drink, or talk, and my eyes are swollen shut, so I can't see. But growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, in the mid '80s, there was basically one thing we like to hear in the summertime: baseball. There it is, man. There's the stadium, there's the Arch, there's the guys in the field. But the way we used to watch the baseball game wasn't at the stadium, it was on the radio. Some of the younger staff, you may not know this, but there used to be a single-app device called a radio. The way you would engage with it is to merely listen. It was a single-flow app. Outbound, baby. Radio. Our voice was a guy named Jack Buck. He was the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals for what, almost 49 years. He was my hero. I loved him. I listened to him every single night as I growing up. He was my hero. But then I got burned. Then I can't move, then I can't see. And then I'm laying in a hospital bed the day after I get burnt. And I'm in darkness and I'm scared and I'm sad and I'm afraid. And then I hear a door open up. Mayo Clinic, Military Medicine, family friends, leaders, humans. All it takes is one. I hear footsteps walk into the room. I hear chair get pulled across the floor. Somebody coughs, they clear their throat. And then I hear that voice. And the voice singing, speaking light and encouragement into a little boy's darkness. Says the words, Kid, wake up. Wake up. You are going to live. You are going to survive. Keep fighting. John O'Leary Day at the ballpark will make it all worthwhile. Kid, are you listening? Keep fighting. I'm laying here in this darkness. And then I hear him say one more time, kid, keep fighting. The man stands up, he walks out. He leaves a child tied down in darkness by himself, on fire for life. One guy came in, one time, and changed me from the inside out, changed my life. I found out years later that he walks down the hallway, leans his head against a glass door, and just breaks down crying. Which of course we all recognize as is the sign of great weakness. Yes? No, man, not when you're serving someone. It's a sign of great strength. This guy up here pictured is a veteran. United States Army, fought World War Two, picked up a Purple Heart. Gets wounded, comes home. Deals with not only a scar, but the struggle. Sometimes they're different. Builds a life, starts a career, serves patients, serves his family. Makes a difference, but cried all the time. Not because he's weak, but because he's strong. One of the nurses walks over to him, kneels down, looks up at Mr. Buck and says, Mr. Buck are you all right? We can't lose you. You're the only celebrity in St. Louis. We cannot lose you. He looks back and says, I'm not sure that little boy won't make it, will he? The expert on her knees looks up and says, Mr. Buck, there is absolutely not a chance. It's his time. When this news shows up in our life, what we do next influences what happens next. What Jack does is he takes it home. He cries, he prays. He reflects and he journals, this man, on one question, what's the question? Class, yell it out. What more can I do? Very good. What more can I do? The following day, January 19, 1987, there's a little boy laying in the hospital bed dying. And then the door opens up. And then footsteps walking. And then one veteran, one servant, one clinician, one human being, one hero, because that's what you are, walks into this room with me and speaks the words, Kid, wake up, I'm back. You are going to live. You are going to fight. Keep fighting John. 0'Leary. The ballpark will make it all worthwhile. See you soon. And then he leaves. And then he comes back the following day. And then he leaves, Mayo Clinic and then he comes back the following day. This man showed up in my life every day for the next 5 and half months. On August 26, 1987, he takes me downtown. We have John O'Leary at the ballpark. That's me wearing the red shirt. I just want to make sure we're on the same page. He learns that I can't do anything with my hands. And rather than just feeling pity on or for me, he takes it home. He cries, he prays, and he reflects on one question. What more can I do? Let me remind you of the question. In every single audience that I have a chance of speaking in front of, I beg them to ask this question to be directed to serve others. Basically I say to them without saying this, get over yourself, okay. Get over yourself. Be other-oriented for once. In this audience, Mayo Clinic, medical medicine, family and friends. I beg you to ask this question selfishly. Ladies and gentlemen who are forward, who are serving, who are on the front lines with patients, who are dealing with all of the litany of struggles you've been dealing with for the last three years and beyond. Who have high census and struggles and chaos and family members who are on edge and everything else we're dealing with in life. Be selfish for once. Ask this question, what more can you do for others? Ask it, instead, of what more can you do to fill up your own bucket to take care of yourself spiritually, emotionally, physically your health, your life, kicking your legs up for a moment, take a nature walk, enjoying spring, whatever it might be. What more can I do? What more can I do? As I go through the remainder of the story, we just have a couple of minutes left, I want you to ask this question self centeredly for once, be selfish. You've earned it. You've earned it. Then when you return to asking it to be selfless, you can. Okay, so here we go. Jack asked the question, and he answers it that day by sending this little boy with no fingers, a baseball. And below that baseball was a note that read, Kid, if you want a second baseball, write a thank you letter to the man who sent the first. I can't, Jack. But I want a second baseball. For the first time, I allowed two therapists, OTs, to come into my life. They push my hands together. We write a note to Ozzie Smith, mail it off, and two days later, we get a second baseball with a second note that reads, Kid, if you want a third baseball... I do. I wrote the note. It was hard, but it's getting a little easier. Then I got a third baseball which said, Kid, if you want a fourth baseball, and I did. Leaders, Mayo Clinic, MCMM, family, friends. Third baseball was followed by a fourth, followed by a fifth and then a sixth, a tenth and then a 20th, and a 30th and a 53rd. And by the end of 1987, Jack Buck sent a little nobody named John O'Leary 60 baseballs. 60, teaching a little boy that his life mattered. It's a good reminder. Veterans, family, servants, Mayo Clinic, patients -- maybe we have some patients tuning in -- patients, your life matters. Act like it, is what he's saying to me. Do your part, write the note. That note writing brought this little boy back to grade school. Grade school was followed by four years of high school. That was followed by nine years at university. Shockingly, you graduated and graduation night, Jack Buck comes to the party with a package and a note. What do you think the first word on the note was? Kid? I don't think he ever knew my first name was John. Kid, this means a lot to me. I hope it means a lot to you too. Enjoy. It's yours. So I open up the package, look inside, and before I show you what he gave, first, leaders, the question he asked, what I'm begging you to ask today for yourself, what more can I do? This is the baseball that I received when I went into the Hall of Fame. It is made of crystal. It is priceless. There's only one like it in the entire world. Don't drop it! He gave a little ball like this away to a nobody. Teaching a little nobody. No such thing. Your life matters. Act like it. Taught a little boy to move forward. To keep stepping on, to recognize that his choices do indeed change his life. I think his gift of love, and generosity and grace led to this picture, known as the greatest sales job of my entire life. She, my beautiful wife Beth, gave me these babies. My wife, by the way, is an occupational therapist. Maybe there's a few OTs in the room. Shout out to my OTs. Today, though is not about them or their doggy. Today is about you and our veterans and the work you do and the lives you impact and the truth that it is so difficult and so exhausting and so worthy and so valuable and lifegiving and right? Life renewing. And so today as we get ready to take the next step forward on the march, my friends, I want you to ask this question for you. What more can I do? And then to make one commitment. Because of today's message, I commit to one thing, just one thing. Because of today's message, I commit to.... I want to thank you, Mayo Clinic, for the work you're doing for our military, for our veterans, for our patients here in the United States and certainly around the world. For the massive impact that you've had, that you had, have -- present tense -- and that you will have going forward. You're part of families' miracles and that makes a mighty difference. And today I stand on behalf of them and a grateful nation. And I say to you, thank you. And then I say these words, I love you and there's nothing you can do about it. Thank you for loving your patients. Thank you for loving our veterans. Thank you for loving our military, and thank you for believing, like I do that the foundation is firm, the headwind, and the challenges might be real, but the best is yet to come. For this time and until next time. My name is John O'Leary and today is your day. What a gift. Thank you for serving. Choose to live inspired. [Melissa Barr] Wow. Powerful reminder to us all that our choices truly can change lives. Thank you John for that truly, inspiring and hope filled message. Thank you all to you who are able to join us today by video or even at a later date when your calendar allows. On behalf of our Military Medicine team here at Mayo Clinic, a heart-filled thanks to those of you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors who have served past, present and future. Thank you.

2023 Military Day carillon show

Enjoy the special carillon performance for Mayo Clinic's 2023 Enterprise Military Day. View the setlist (PDF).

Carillon music being played...

Variations on “America” – Leen ‘t Hart

  1. Theme
  2. Menuet
  3. Aria
  4. Sarabande
  5. Toccata

Materna (America the Beautiful) – Samuel A. Ward, arr. Milford Myhre

The Air Force Song – Robert MacArthur Crawford, arr. George Matthew, Jr.

When Johnny Comes Marching Home – Louis Lambert, arr. Milford Myhre

Keller’s American Hymn – Matthias Keller, arr. Leen ‘t Hart

Yankee Doodle – arr. Milford Myhre

U.S. Armed Forces Medley – arr. Carlo van Ulft

  • The Army Goes Rolling Along – John Philip Sousa
  • The Marines’ Hymn – Jacques Offenbach
  • Anchors Aweigh – Charles A. Zimmermann

Geneva (Not Alone for Mighty Empire) – George Henry Day, arr. Leen ‘t Hart

Over There – George M. Cohar, arr. Robert Lodine

The Battle Hymn of the Republic – arr. Leen ‘t Hart

In Flanders’ Fields – John Philip Sousa, arr. Gordon Slater

The Star–Spangled Banner – John Stafford Smith, arr. Milford Myhre

...carillon music ends