When I first met Dina, the world was a simpler place. That’s actually not true, we were just living simpler lives. We were college students at a prestigious university and our job was to study hard. When four years came to a close and she made the decision to study medicine through the Army I was very proud but none too worried. I mean, it wasn’t like our country would go to war or anything.
Fast forward. Towers fell. A baby was born. He was barely a year old when she left on her first deployment. I wasn’t a mother then but it looked unfair to me and I knew it had to feel wrong. I expected her to be heartbroken, upset and angry before she left but she stood tall and she was clear. She told me this was what she signed up for, that it was her turn and that it wasn’t convenient for anyone regardless: its just what you do. She made it sound as simple as that.
Now that I am a mother, now that I know how visceral your connection is with each of your children, only now do I know the angst she has felt and the strength she carries.
Between her husband Paresh and herself there have been five tours so far while raising three children. No one gets to be the default parent in this scenario (though Dee will be the first to tell you that they each handle their roles as single parent in their own, unique way). And not once have either of them complained, not to me anyway, not even when Dina was about to give birth to their second child by herself with Paresh stationed on the other side of the world. (That child is his spitting image these days.)
I felt a little guilty conspiring against the kiddos when I bumped into their family “by coincidence” as they waited at the baggage claim for their grandmother to arrive (wink, wink). I’m grateful to have been there to capture the greatest surprise and welcome her home. I especially loved that her first born, that first baby she had to leave, was the first to see her and run to her. Granted, his legs are a little longer and that gave him the advantage over the girls but I would like to think that this was the last deployment for their family and that the journey came full circle in that moment.
Think, for a moment, of a price… an income that would be worth leaving the ones you love the most behind and putting yourself in harm’s way. There isn’t one, it doesn’t exist. No one signs up for this unless they believe it is right.
On behalf of my business, myself and my family I want to wish Dina, Paresh and all men and women of service a Happy Veteran’s Day. I realize that if I go to bed at night and feel safe there it is because of every tour, every time you left the ones you loved and put yourself in harm’s way. I know that you did it for your family and for mine. I can’t fully appreciate your sacrifice but I can thank you for it.
Welcome home, Captain Dee, MD. You are my hero.