Army Nurse reflection on Veterans Day 2020
Some professions in life have a way of finding you. I grew up as an Army Brat, my father serving 20 years to this great nation, the United States of America. He was searching for a better life for his family. A child of 12, he knew poverty, sacrifice and knew he wanted a way to care for his own family. I was born in Puerto Rico, and a year later, my father joined the US ARMY and was stationed in Germany. A life surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins was no more. My mother, who wasn’t military, but in my eyes served just as diligently as my father, took her me, her one year old daughter and her pregnant belly to Germany. She did not know the language, was entirely on her own, and while she had a career in Puerto Rico, she was jobless in Germany. Our family was no longer surrounded by their culture, family, or the warmth of their island.
My father and mother’s sacrifice for our nation as a US Soldier and an Army spouse came with a price. They had to grow up quick; no longer could they rely on family members to help them with their growing family. My mother was both father and mother to my brother and me during the long months, and at times, years, my father was away in the field or in another country serving. My father served without complaint about the long days, cold nights without his family. A Soldier who was dedicated to his job, he strived to do his best no matter the price.
These lessons did not go unnoticed by me as I grew up. I knew my family was part of a bigger family, the Army. Little did I know I would find myself reaching for my adopted childhood family as a young adult. As I mentioned before, some professions find a way of finding you rather than you finding the profession. The Army and Nursing found me.
I pursued a college degree in liberal arts and began courses in recording engineering. I still didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I came to a crossroad in my life journey that needed a decision. I needed direction, a purpose, and that desire lead me to an Army recruiting office. There was no fear of becoming a Soldier; I knew I would have my father’s footsteps to guide me. I took the oath that all veterans take… “I, _, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
I also agreed to live by a very strict set of rules and values the Army cultivates in each and every Soldier. Standards that exceed the normal and are tested time and time again. There I was, 26 years old, sitting in the Meps station with a decision that would determine my future staring back at me. Which one job do I choose? It was time to choose. There it was, a profession that requires dedication continued learning, and a willingness to place others before yourself; nursing. It’s been 13 years since I made that decision, and I am blessed to have done so.
Thanks to my father and mother’s sacrifice, the lessons learned as a young child, I serve proudly today as an Army Nurse. I go above and beyond what is asked of me because my patients are my family. I have my moments of sadness, realizing I cannot live near my mom, my dad, my brother. I get frustrated when I cannot jump on a plane when I want to visit family, or if I am not feeling well call in sick. I get nervous when I don’t know where I will be living next or when I will deploy. I get sad when I must leave friends who have become family. In those moments, I reflect on a day like today, Veterans day. I am reminded of each of those sacrifices I make, making being a Soldier the most rewarding profession I know. It is also on this veterans day that I personally remember all those who have given their lives for our nation, the ultimate sacrifice. I also reflect upon all the women who have come before me and opened the path for me, a Latina, woman serving my nation both as a Solider and as a Nurse. I am also reminded I am not alone.
Thank you, brothers and sisters. Thank you, dad, thank you to my husband who served proudly for 20 years, thank you to all my friends and colleagues who serve and have served. Lastly, thank you to all the citizens of the United States of America who hold us in high regard and give their thanks and respect.
If you see a Soldier tell them “thank you”, they will not expect it, but it will remind them who they are fighting for— you.