Accept kindness during life-altering events

  • Published
  • By Maj. Sharon Walker
  • 81st Medical Group
I've always felt that people matter and I have tried to help them all I could. Most of my life experiences have included taking care of others.

Like many people, I'm an Air Force officer, a nurse, wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend and the list goes on. Many times as a supervisor and in my deployment position as chief nurse at the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group, I was often engaged with personnel who required Red Cross services. I never imagined being a recipient of these services and having others have to take care of me.

While deployed overseas, I received a knock at my dorm room door at about 3 a.m. It was the 379th EMED "first shirt" informing me that the Red Cross needed me to call immediately regarding my husband's health condition in the states.

I had spoken already with family and colleagues at Keesler Medical Center, so I'd known of my husband's hospitalization, but the last status report I had received wasn't as gloomy as what I was about to hear. My husband's condition warranted him being moved to the intensive care unit, sedated and placed on a life-saving ventilator.

Red Cross personnel were very efficient in ensuring I would be ready to leave for the states in a timely manner. Even though my tour would have been up in less than two weeks, I really wasn't ready to leave at that very moment. My orders were expedited. I departed for home and was at my husband's bedside in the ICU within 60 hours. I felt so cared for and that I mattered.

I always will be grateful for the Red Cross efforts and those who were supportive in expediting my trip back to Keesler. I'm back at work and on track with my career. My husband recovered miraculously (I'm not kidding) and his health is good.

Just when things in my life were somewhat falling in line, my husband and I received a call on Sept. 7, 2009, informing us of the death of our 22-year-old son, who had moved from Mississippi to Texas the preceding November.

Once again, people showed my family how much we mattered. We received calls and prayers from many 81st Medical Group and Team Keesler's personnel. The memorial service held at the chapel at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, was greatly supported by the ministry there, which my family and I were a part of during other military rotations.

I'll always remember the encouragement and hope as my family and I went through a tragic ordeal. We are blessed to know a savior and counselor who is available 24/7.

There are also Keesler chapel grief counselors, military and family consultant program and Military One Source references, among others, that can support members through times of grief, loss and stress. In my 18½ years of active duty, I would have never expected to endure these events.

So, next time you're at one of those deployment or newcomers briefings, pay attention to what is being said. It is a lot of information but that is why you take the printed material and listen to what is being presented.

Through it all, words cannot express my gratitude for the personal display of care and compassion shown when life-changing events happened to me.