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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Recognizing My Veteran

I have blogged in the past about my daughter Lauren, who was an active duty Naval Officer up until June 1, 2015.  After four years at the Naval Academy, Lauren graduated and was commissioned as a Surface Warfare Officer.  

She was first stationed in San Diego, California, where she was then deployed to the Middle East for seven months.  It was on her return trip to the US that her ship stopped in Hawaii and I was one of around 60 family members who got the privilege to spend eight days on her ship as it returned to its home port in San Diego.  What an experience; it was like take your dad to work for eight days.  

Lauren was then transferred to Little Creek, Virginia, and was again deployed to the Middle East.  She had to meet her ship off the coast of east Africa.  At 25, she had to fly alone from Norfolk to Detroit to Amsterdam to Kenya to Djibouti, Africa. After her 32-hour adventure half way around the world, she was picked up by hovercraft and brought to her new ship.  That deployment was for "only" four months, but for her shipmates, it was 11 months of being away from their families.  When her ship docked in Norfolk, there were close to 100 new fathers who were allowed to leave the ship first to greet the latest addition to their families.  The attached photo was from that deployment.  

Subsequent to her return, Lauren was part of a group of ships and Navy personnel that were dispatched to the NY / NJ area to provide relief after the devastation of hurricane Sandy.  They were thrilled to be lending critical assistance until they were told to "get the f*** out" by a union boss.  They were apparently taking jobs away from the unions so the NJ politicians caved and the Navy was sent packing.  Recovery continues in both NY and NJ from Hurricane Sandy; can you imagine the impact that our military could have had on the recovery effort if it wasn't for powerful unions and spineless politicians?  

Lauren then found herself at Fort Meade involved with cybersecurity.  She said that it sounded much more glamorous than it really was.  Working with civilian government employees and contractors was quite an experience to the point that when Lauren was leaving the Navy after attaining her MBA from Maryland's Smith School of Business, she chose to pursue a career in marketing rather than cybersecurity or defense contracting.

The bottom line is that this is Lauren's first Veteran's Day since leaving the Navy and I couldn't be more proud of what this young woman has accomplished over the last ten years.  She served her country with honor and distinction and has created in me an lasting appreciation for our service personnel and our veterans.  Having never served, I feel a personal void after experiencing military life with Lauren and living through the sacrifices that Lauren and those with whom she has served have made for me, her family and her country.

A joyous homecoming!

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