My sister called me a year ago to let me know my niece was being deployed to Afghanistan. At first, I was filled with fear and dread. I couldn’t stop worrying about her and wondering if she’d come home safely. My niece is an Air Force emergency doctor and she has two little boys. The youngest was barely two when she left and her older one almost three. Before her deployment, my sister threw a party in honor of her upcoming service and I went to it wondering what I would say to her without sounding scared and negative. I mean, it’s not as if she was heading to study abroad. What do you say to someone heading to war?
When we got to my sister’s home, there was my niece, beautiful and proud, surrounded by friends and family. I made my way over to her and immediately blurted out how worried I was for her safety and how horrible she was being deployed when she had two little babies to care for at home.
“How could ‘they’ do this to you?” I asked after giving her a long hug. Her answer completely surprised me and gave me some insight into how our soldiers feel about their service. She said, “I signed up for this duty Aunt Germaine. I may not agree with how things are going over there but I am needed to help my fellow soldiers and to ensure they get quality treatment and care. If I didn’t go, someone else would have to leave their babies and go in my place and that wouldn’t be fair to that person.”
So off my niece went to Afghanistan. She served there for almost six months away from her family and most importantly, her babies. I kept peeled to the news and worried every time I heard a story about the area she was in. I sent her small packages and with each one, she’d send me a thank you note letting me know how her team and she enjoyed the goodies in them. Again, I was amazed by her all-for-one attitude, her “team spirit” and sharing everything received with her fellow soldiers serving with her.
This Veteran’s Day means more to me than any before. I have learned how some of our soldiers think. I still believe war is horrible and we humans should have evolved well past this need to kill each other over religion, land and greed. Unfortunately, it’s our reality and those like my niece who are willing to leave their babies have shown me that they aren’t all killing machines heading to destroy a foreign country. So many of our soldiers are there to help others and even to keep peace where they serve.
I have a lot of respect for those of us who can put themselves into danger to help others. We all face challenges at our jobs but nothing compares to putting yourself in harm’s way. It’s difficult to appreciate what soldiers give up to ensure their own families and people they don’t even know stay safe. I am truly humbled by their service and hope one day, we get to a place where no one has to head into war and being a Veteran is a thing of the past.
-Germaine, MAJAMAS Company Owner & Designer