Local vets never forget

Go ahead, take three guesses at the meaning of the acronym SDVOSB.  Ah, you got it, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business.  Okay, here’s another one, FACHE.  That’s easy too, Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Flower Mound resident James Rosengren, founder and CEO of Heritage Health Solutions in Parker Square is a font of information about military service, having a disability, owning a business, and being a healthcare executive. His Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business contracts with government agencies to facilitate and pay for medical services provided by their various health insurance plans.

“We provide pharmacy first-fill prescription services to more than one-million veterans at over 600 VA medical clinics in the U.S.,” he said.

Heritage Health Solutions supports the U.S. Marshals’ national Managed Care Contract that covers health care services for over 60,000 individuals on any given day, and potentially 230,000 persons each year.

“We bid competitively on each contract, and our exceptional staff sees to it we retain 98-percent of our accounts.”

Descendants of Swedish settlers in Muskegon, Michigan, Jim’s family moved to the Detroit area where he graduated from high school when the Vietnam War was in full swing.  At that time the Department of Defense required all 19 year olds to register for the military draft, a lottery in which young men were assigned a number from 1 through 365–one number for each day of the year.  After his birthday Jim complied with the law, and drew a low number which meant he was in the army.

Draftees from Wayne County were being assigned to the infantry, but volunteers received a wider choice of military occupations. In a proactive move he visited a recruiter rather than the other way around.

Service draftees and applicants take a battery of intelligence and aptitude tests, and he scored in the top tier.

“I had already thought about becoming a doctor,” he said, “so I decided to become a combat medic.”

He later discovered medics serve on the front line in battle.

After Basic Training he attended medic school, and on the proverbial eve of graduation President Richard Nixon announced the end of new troops shipping out for Vietnam.  The war ended for the unseasoned combat medic.  He retrained in dental hygiene, and spent the next 7-and-a-half years working with army dentists.

“When was the last time you saw a male dental hygienist?” he asked with a laugh.

Upon parting ways with his favorite uncle, Jim matriculated at the University of Central Florida at Orlando, and earned the Bachelor of Science in chemistry and physics.  Through the Reserve Officer Training Program (ROTC) he received an officer’s commission, and began his career in medical administration.  While stationed at Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio, he entered Baylor University graduate school, and received their master’s degree in healthcare administration, the MHA.

In 1987 Jim became the Company Commander of a 40-bed hospital in Korea’s famous DMZ, the demilitarized zone between the communist north and the democratic south.  For the purpose of comparison that facility was roughly half the size of Presbyterian Hospital in Flower Mound.

In the performance of his non-combat duties, Jim seriously injured his shoulder, and after multiple corrective surgeries, hours of rehabilitation, and steroid injections he and his healthcare team were forced to conclude he had a permanent problem.

“In 1991 doctors reconstructed my shoulder.”

He moved forward in life as a working-but-disabled officer and later veteran. After Korea, he moved for work at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

His retired Army boss contacted him about a civilian position with a health care company based in California.  Taking 10 days to make the career decision Jim retired from the military, and joined the private sector workforce to implement TriCare in north Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

TriCare is a military health insurance that pays for civilian medical services and facilities used by military retirees and active duty soldiers’ dependents.

While house hunting in the DFW Metroplex Jim stayed with friends in Flower Mound, liked the area, and decided to settle here.

“In 2005 the company wanted us to relocate back to the D.C. area.  We weren’t prepared to make that change so I retired as Vice President of Health Net, my California employer.”

The Rosengrens returned to Michigan where they wrestled with the usual new retiree dilemma of what-do-I-do-with-myself-24/7.  Jim and his wife Lisa sat down with a yellow legal pad, and plotted the outline of Heritage Health Solutions.  Jim still has the original handwritten business plan.

Wisdom says there is a good woman behind every good man, and this is the case with the Rosengrens.  Eighteen year old Jim had taken a shine to a pretty 16-year old high school classmate.  He convinced the girl, his future wife Lisa, to skip school for a day of water skiing with mutual friends from work and school.  Wahoo!

Their luck ran out when a water accident left Jim’s work pal with a facial laceration that needed medical attention.  The two girls returned to school after the attendance rolls arrived in the office.  Lisa swallowed her hooky player’s medicine, forgave Jim, and the last 40 odd years are happily ever after history.  The couple married near the end of 1972 while he attended dental hygienist training in San Antonio.

Jim speaks with pride about their sons Joshua and Aaron who are both combat veterans, former Army officers, and medical administrators who work at Heritage Health Solutions.  The Rosengren apples fell close to the tree.

“Sometimes soldiers in combat, for their own safety,” Jim explained, “do what is called blackout driving. They drive at night without lights.  The practice is hazardous.”

In that circumstance Joshua received a life-altering injury in Iraq when his moving vehicle drove into a bomb crater.  He lurched head first in full battle gear which adds about 120 extra pounds to a man’s momentum, and suffered a full spinal decompression.

In civilian language that means all the discs in his back “slipped.”  Ouch is an understated reaction.  Four surgeries later he became a civilian, and today goes to the office with a custom-designed wheelchair and a mobile scooter.  People with slipped discs can empathize.

His dad shrugged.  “He has good days and bad days.”

Joshua heads up the veteran outreach area of Heritage Health Solutions.

Jim and Lisa’s other son Aaron spent four years on active duty that included one mishap-free combat tour.  He also gave three years in the Texas National Guard as the executive officer of a medical company.

“Our business philosophy includes never forgetting those who have served,” Jim said.

In addition to being a wife and mother, Lisa is a finance and HR pro who advises the company’s CEO and Executive Committee.  Her mantra is, “To be active in the communities where we live, work, and serve.”  To that end she recently completed Leadership Flower Mound’s nine month skills course.  “Stepping forward and taking responsibility for seeing that something gets done is a key factor in leading organizations,” she said.

Besides being a member of the Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce, 8-year old Heritage Health Solutions is a Platinum Sponsor of quarterly Help-A-Hero service projects in town and around North Texas.  The outfit teams up with local charities like Keep Flower Mound Beautiful, churches like the Latter-Day Saints, and an array of businesses to help disabled veterans.

Past joint projects include donating supplies for home and auto repairs, find
ing household goods for homeless vets, Toys for Tots, a rehab fishing extravaganza for disabled vets and their families, box seats at Rangers stadium, and sponsoring and helping with the U.S. Marshals fallen heroes Golf Classic which provides financial support to the families of marshals killed in the line of duty.

“We can never forget the sacrifices our servicemen and women have made to protect and defend this great nation.  Giving back to them only comes natural,” Jim said.


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