The following guest post was written and submitted by Veteran Joan T. Arrington Craigwell, R.N., M.S.N., M.A., this is her story and “What Veterans Day means to me.”
To me, being a Veteran means having an opportunity to serve your country in an unselfish and extraordinary way. As a Veteran, I’ve spent my career doing just that.
I joined the Air Force in 1961. I served as a nurse and flight nurse in many locations, including Vietnam. The experience that left the most enduring mark on my life was the Tet Offensive in January 1968.
The men and women serving in-country were under incredible risks during this encounter because there were no front lines or safe zones. As the offensive began, many injured 19-year old soldiers were brought into the casualty staging unit. The nurses and doctors labored under some of the most difficult and intense conditions – lack of staff and supplies, hot and rainy climate conditions and very long hours. I can’t fully express the unwavering service the medical team displayed during this arduous time. The staff literally worked until they dropped to save and treat as many of the wounded as possible.
Joan Craigwell in the military.
I left the Air Force in 1968 and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for my outstanding service in Vietnam. Many people would choose to leave nursing after my experiences, but I continued my career at the VA medical facility in Palo Alto as a professor of nursing and served as the team leader for the VA Veterans Outreach Center in San Diego. With the assistance of other Veterans, I helped to orchestrate the first Stand Down in San Diego, which focuses on homeless Veterans and has since spread to other cities. I still work with homeless Veterans through my church and speak at community Veteran’s events to be a voice for Veterans.
My story is one of millions you can find in America. Every day, Veterans setting aside their personal ambitions and dreams to assure the freedoms of others. It’s important that we have a day to remember their value and sacrifice and the lessons that come with both. Some Veterans know how terrible war can be and many have the scars to show for it. All Veterans remind us of our potential as Americans to give and at times, give it your all.
This is why we need Veterans Day.
Author: Joan T. Arrington Craigwell, R.N., M.S.N., M.A. ~ Instructor, Nursing 282 Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing MiraCosta Community College