“Look at the fine young men and women who are still volunteering to serve this country, who put their lives on hold, willing to shoulder the mantle of freedom. The future of this country is bright and secure.” – Dana Wisthoff, TriWest Senior Project Manager
Every day, the men and women of our nation’s Armed Forces selflessly serve our country, vowing to defend our freedom and keep our country safe. This dedication to service is found across all branches of the military and extends to each Service member, from the National Guard and Reserve to active duty Service members, Veterans and all who have answered our nation’s call.
Armed Forces Day, recognized annually on the third Saturday of May, gives us a chance to honor all who currently serve and all who have served in the past. Armed Forces Day was created in 1949, stemming from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department – the Department of Defense – by President Harry S. Truman.
This day gives us a chance to honor the sacrifice and service of our nation’s military members and to increase our awareness of each branch and its role and responsibilities. In recognition of this year’s Armed Forces Day, we feature the service of three current TriWest Healthcare Alliance (TriWest) employees, highlighting their experiences in three different branches of our nation’s Armed Forces.
Dana Wisthoff, Marine Corps Veteran, TriWest Senior Project Manager
Dana Wisthoff grew up south of Green Bay, Wis., spending much of his childhood outdoors. “As a kid, there were lots of opportunities for fishing, hunting and camping. Canoeing in the summer and camping in the winter were my favorites,” Dana recalled.
Dana’s path to the military started with his family tree. Dana’s father joined the Army during the Korean War, and both his grandfathers served in the Army during the two world wars. “These men were the ones I looked up to.” Dana saw how they modeled “servant leadership” and said, “It instilled in me the sense of a greater purpose, personal responsibility and involvement.”
Even though Dana’s family had a tradition of serving in the Army, Dana longed to see if he had “what it took” to become a Marine. The Marine Corps infantry would provide plenty of opportunities for him to test himself.
“As it turned out, I ended up in one of the elite battalions in the Marine Corps and not only did a normal tour of duty but was extended for the good of the service,” Dana said.
Being in the Marine Corps provided Dana with many unique experiences and opportunities, such as riding out of a ship in an amphibious landing craft while practicing beach assaults; rappelling out of helicopters; traveling to Japan, the Philippines, Portugal, Columbia and much more. “Most of my memories include a level of excitement and anticipation for doing something new or something with a level of challenge or risk. Many memories are also centered around the comraderie of the Corps,” he recalled.
During his service, Dana spent more than three years on Embassy Duty. “Marines have provided security within these U.S. outposts since the U.S. has had formal embassies,” he said. “It gave me a special view into U.S. foreign relations and the multiple agencies that are housed in embassies throughout the world.” The job requires you to protect classified information, staff and property around the world, so “there is very little room for mistakes,” Dana noted. By living in other countries for long periods of time, Dana said it crystalized his knowledge that “the U.S. is the best place in the world to live.”
Dana now serves as a Senior Project Manager for TriWest. “As a project manager, I can help smooth out processes and implement changes to help those who have served,” he explained. “Making things better for those who have worn the country’s cloth is an honor, and I take pride in serving those who have also served.”
When Dana considered the significance of Armed Forces Day, he said he wanted civilians to understand the sacrifice and selflessness of those who serve. “When an individual chooses to serve in our volunteer military – in whatever branch – they have committed to serve the greater good and have put their personal lives on hold and at risk to do so,” Dana said. “They have put aside their personal opinions and agendas to protect people regardless of where they came from, how they look or their different political views. All of these men and women have volunteered to do something that only a very few will.”
Cathleen Arment, Army Veteran, TriWest Customer Service Representative
Cathleen was born and raised in Phoenix, and felt the pull of the military while attending Phoenix College after graduating from high school.
“One day an Army recruiter asked if I had a minute and a few weeks later, I signed my name on the dotted line,” she recalled.
Cathleen’s father served in the Army and was deployed to fight in the Korean War for a year. Her father’s service, along with the idea that she could serve and work on her education at the same time, gave her the motivation to sign up. Cathleen served eight years as a motor pool parts clerk from 1979-1988, stationed in Germany, Colorado Springs and Panama.
Like Dana’s memories of his time in the Marine Corps, Cathleen has moments that stand out from her eight years of service in the Army. “When I was stationed in Germany, I was one of three female soldiers asked to participate in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization training games,” Cathleen said.
She trained in Demark, Scotland, West Germany and Canada.“Each team was given a map, a compass and orders of what to find and bring back and a time in which to do it.” She noted the challenges they faced. “There were traps set up, rope bridges to cross, woods, rivers and open fields to get through,” Cathleen recalled.
Cathleen’s team was second to reach the finish line, a meaningful accomplishment, especially considering that this was a time when there weren’t many women doing in-the-field training.
Cathleen also recalled a challenging time when she was stationed in Panama, searching for a member of her platoon.
“The jungle is very tricky. There is steep terrain that you sometimes can’t see, lots of bugs and thick vegetation that make it very difficult to maneuver,” she said.
Experiences like these made Cathleen’s time in the Army special, but she’s also quick to speak to the fundamental qualities that connect all of the branches of the Armed Forces.
“It’s true that each branch has its different skills and techniques, but it’s also true that when the time comes, there will be a fellow Service member to protect other Service members no matter what branch of the Service they’re in. We all serve as a team,” she noted.
Cathleen’s life now is a busy one. She was married to a fellow Service member for 35 years, has three children and two granddaughters, and is an active member of the Disabled American Veterans in Henderson, Nevada. In addition, Cathleen has worked at TriWest for close to eight years in a number of roles. As a customer service representative, she finds her work gratifying and rewarding. “Working for a company that works to get Veterans the medical care and treatment they deserve is very important to me,” she said.
For Armed Forces Day, Cathleen believes we should show our thanks to the men and women in all of our military branches who have served to protect our freedom and safety. Her advice is easy to follow. “A simple ‘Thank you for your time in service’ is a good way to recognize the day,” she suggested.
David Kesling, Navy Veteran, TriWest Senior Technical Support Analyst
David was born and raised in Baltimore. After quitting high school, David realized there weren’t a lot of options available to him.
“I met with a recruiter, took the ASVAB and scored surprisingly high,” he recalled. From there, enlisting in the Navy was an easy choice: “I could see the world and get paid to do so.”
David signed up for a four-year enlistment with the stipulation that he’d receive his GED within his first two years. He did, spending the next five years in the Navy (1990-1995) finishing with the rank of second class Gunner’s Mate.
As David imagined when he enlisted, the Navy did provide him with a chance to see the world and experience many meaningful moments in the process. He recalled a special moment when the ship was returning home from deployment in support of Operation Desert Storm/Shield in the Pacific Ocean. “One of our shipmates had lost his grandfather, and we passed a spot where he had fought during World War II in the Navy,” David said.
He, along with seven others, had the privilege of performing a Burial at Sea Ceremony for his shipmate’s grandfather with a full 21-Gun Salute.
David’s time in the Navy also led him to Dubai, where he and a group of 100 other sailors took part in a humanitarian effort at a school for people with disabilities. “We rebuilt the school and built a play structure for the children,” he shared. “We brought much-needed supplies and spent time playing games with the children and staff.”
When David thought about unique experiences he had in the Navy, he recalled a time when his ship was returning home from deployment. He and the other sailors had the opportunity to bring a family member or friend aboard the ship for a Tiger Cruise. David invited his younger sister.
“They meet the ship in Hawaii, come aboard and spend the next seven days living on the ship and experiencing Navy life for the last leg of deployment to homeport.”
David now works at TriWest as a Senior Technical Support Analyst, building and maintaining the computers.
“As a Veteran, I know how difficult and time-consuming it can be to get treatment,” he said. “Having TriWest assist with getting care quickly, making it so smooth and painless is refreshing. Being a part of a great team that provides some of the resources for our employees to do this work for so many of our Veterans is heartwarming.”
As Armed Forces Day approaches, David shared how it’s a day to honor everyone who took the time out of their lives to defend our freedom.
“Find an organization and send care packages to random Service members,” he suggested. “There are a lot of lonely times and a lot of men and women serving. For many, it’s their first time away from their family and their home. A little thank you from a stranger goes a long way in showing them love and support.”
As you reflect on the service and sacrifice of the members of our nation’s Armed Forces, consider the suggestions of these three Veterans and find your own way to make this day meaningful. Check your local area for events such as parades, educational opportunities or military displays.
Dana left us with a hopeful and inspiring message for this Armed Forces Day, thanks in part to his son, an infantry officer in the Marine Corps who gave up his banking and finance career “to serve and to lead.”
“Look at the fine young men and women who are still volunteering to serve this country, who put their lives on hold, willing to shoulder the mantle of freedom. The future of this country is bright and secure.”
TriWest wishes Dana, Cathleen, David and all of our nation’s Service members, past and present, a Happy Armed Forces Day! Thank you for your service.