Celebration, reflection and appreciation for military veterans: A safety manager’s story

After moving up the military ranks, Andy Wells now finds meaning in a career at Norton Healthcare.

Some people are called to serve. From an early age, they know where their path will lead them, and every move they make is with that goal in mind. Others find it along the way.

Andy Wells, safety manager at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, wasn’t ready to jump into college or a skilled trade after graduating high school. He needed some time to consider where he wanted to be in the future. He came from a family of military veterans, including his dad and two of his dad’s brothers, who were all Vietnam veterans, so decided to join the Delayed Entry Program for the Air Force in July 1993. A year later, he turned 18, graduated high school and joined the Air Force.

That early decision was a lasting one. Andy is proud to have had a nearly 28-year career in the Air Force Medical Service, where he retired as a chief master sergeant, at the top of enlisted ranks.  

“There is no doubt the service played a positive role in who I am today,” Andy said.

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For Andy, some of his military career highlights were being hand-selected for a top-secret presidentially directed program at the Nevada National Security Site and serving as senior enlisted leader of the International Health Specialist Program. In that program, he played a key role in transforming global health engagement and in briefings on emerging preventive health issues to many Middle East countries.

That time in the military allowed him to earn two bachelor’s degrees. It also fostered in him skills that he uses today leading his team at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

“The service highlighted the importance of working well with teams and understanding the importance of cooperation, accountability, dependability and making sound and timely decisions,” Andy said.

Andy joined Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital in May 2023. In his role, he provides patients, guests and staff a safe, caring environment and readies the facility for emergencies as part of Norton Healthcare’s emergency preparedness efforts.

According to Keith Cook, vice president of operations at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Andy’s leadership style is rare and was cultivated through his successful military career.

“Andy has a wonderful servant leadership quality that allows him to easily connect with others,” Keith said. “It does not take long to see what an incredible person Andy is and how lucky we are to have him as our safety manager at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital.”

It wasn’t too long after joining Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital that Andy volunteered with VETS, Norton Healthcare’s employee resource group for veterans, as part of a Memorial Day observance. He now serves as one of the co-leaders of the employee resource group.

“I wanted to offer my time and experience in a greater capacity,” Andy said. “I’m hoping to enhance the camaraderie in the [employee resource group] and establish deep friendships with fellow service members.”

As Norton Healthcare celebrates Veterans Day on Nov. 11, Andy reminds us that it is a day to honor, appreciate and thank all veterans. “I use the day to reflect and think about all the sacrifices and contributions service members have made for the greater good of the country,” Andy said.

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