On October 2, 2020, Sue Rawlings, the widow of Sesame Street Live founder, Vince Egan, born on October 2, donated a $4 million estate to Minnesota veterans and their families. It was the most generous gift and incredible event you have likely never heard of. This story should have been shouted from the rooftops to recognize her selfless support of our nation’s heroes. Instead, the story received five seconds on a local news station, drowned out by the president’s recent diagnosis, celebrity news, and other sensational fluff that have no impact on our lives other then the momentary capture of our short attention spans.
When did we get so disengaged, so hungry for emotionally depleting news? For me, this was just as evident in 2018 when I was home in Minnesota on leave following my latest deployment. I was caring for Sue who was battling and would ultimately conquer cancer. One day she was taking a nap and I found myself in the basement where I discovered some vintage 1940s Cosmopolitan and Life magazines.
As I turned the aged pages, I was struck by regular calls for action to “support the war effort”, “buy war bonds”, “host a scrap metal drive”, and “support sugar rationing.” I was familiar with the connectedness between the home front and the frontlines within my family, but on a national level? That made me wonder about our current national war effort, so I pulled out my favorite news feed and scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled… for at least seven minutes. Finally, I reached a story about the migrant crisis in Syria due to ISIS advances. No mention about anything else. That is when I realized the gap between those who go to war and those who send them has never been greater than it is today. The lack of coverage last Friday is just the latest example.
Sue donated a 37-acre estate in Dayton, Minnesota on Diamond Lake to the Magnus Veterans Foundation (MVF). The Magnus Veterans Foundation will deliver comprehensive care to veterans and their families previously only available to active duty special operations forces like the Green Berets, Army Rangers, Navy Seals, and Marine Raiders. Minnesota veterans, their families, and our communities will be the first in the world to receive this level of coordinated care outside of active duty special operations in order to optimize whole health, physical performance, social performance, psychological performance, and spiritual performance.
Thanks to Sue Rawlings, MVF will create the Magnus Veterans Wellness Campus to serve our veterans, their families, and our communities. The campus will include a primary care clinic, behavioral health clinic, human performance center, and multiple spiritual engagement areas, staffed with subject matter experts to create a one-stop shop for whole health. Furthermore, several community engagement events will establish opportunities to close the gap between veterans, their families, and our communities. For example, MVF will partner with local theaters to establish recurrent Theater on the Lawn events. The community will be invited to bring a blanket, sit on the property amphitheater, and enjoy a play written by a veteran and presented by local actors. All of this is designed to share the stories of our veterans so we may help them shoulder that story instead of them going it alone.
I understand that MVF is not a leading national story. However, shouldn’t MVF receive more than five seconds on a local news channel considering that Dayton, Minnesota is poised to establish a new national standard in veteran health? Minnesota will be the first in the nation to fully heal and honor our veterans through a comprehensive approach to mind, body, heart, and spirit using a model currently only available to our elite special operations forces. Thanks to Sue Rawlings, we are already well on our way to closing the gap. Please consider recognizing her gift by mailing a thank-you letter addressed to her at Magnus Veterans Foundation, 16861 North Diamond Lake Road, Dayton, MN 55327. You can also email a message through magnusveteransfoundation.org or on our Facebook page. — Shawn Alderman, MD, LTC (Ret), US Army, Founder, Magnus Veterans Foundation