Anonymous Donor Helps Veterans Follow Dreams

The generosity of an anonymous donor is empowering veterans at Sanford Health to further their careers in health care.

The Sanford Veteran Professional Development Grant program, launched in late 2021 through the donor’s philanthropy, has awarded nearly $200,000 to Sanford employees who are veterans or active-duty military service members. Funds may help these employees return to school, gain certification or take other classes to grow professionally.

“I have had several veterans break down and cry when I told them of this generous donor’s gift,” said Carol Sonnichsen, a senior career development consultant at Sanford, who manages the program. “Many of the veterans have been working extra shifts and/or jobs outside of Sanford to pay for their education.”

According to Sonnichsen, most applicants are nurses aspiring to complete a graduate degree. Upon receiving a grant to pursue graduate education within the psychiatric field, a nurse and member of the South Dakota National Guard sent the following note of thanks:

Your generous grant will help me be better able to manage my employment, military obligations and clinical rotation schedule. Recently, I was working extra shifts to try to offset the limited hours I will be able to work when in my clinical rotations. The burnout is real, but I am passionate about working to increase mental health resources for our civilian and military populations. 

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your contribution to veterans such as myself. It truly means a lot and eases the financial burden of graduate education.

Give for education. Give for good.


The generosity of donors through the Sanford Health Foundation provides thousands of dollars in scholarship awards and grants every year to help employees and aspiring health care workers further their education.

To learn more about supporting the Sanford Veteran Professional Development Grant program or other educational opportunities, please contact your local Foundation team.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your contribution to veterans such as myself.
– Grant Recipient
Nurse and member of South Dakota National Guard