My Inspiration, the Veteran in my life

Veterans Day, a day to honor and thank veterans, has come and gone.  However, the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate a veteran should never be passed.  As an Army National Guard wife I swell with pride whenever my husband wears his uniform to serve our country. When I remember deployment and months that I have been without him I shed a tear but then think to myself we did it! When I think about how his very basic need to serve has driven him to do just that, and to do that with honor, I remember the many qualities that attracted me to him so many years ago.

But my pride in my husband stems much further back than the day he pinned on 2nd Lt with me by his side.  It is more than just looks (although he is mighty handsome if I do say so myself!) it is a feeling that swells deep and stems back to my childhood.

From 1st Lt and Mrs. to Mom and Dad, I was the first born of three.  I was born in the desert of Nevada, started kindergarten in tropical Panama and graduated high school on the island of Iceland, my blood runs Red, White & Blue.  I was recently interviewed by a veterans' group about a veteran that inspired me and it didn't take long to know exactly who that was:

1) Did a specific service member inspire you?
My dad is my inspiration. He proudly served his country for 30 years before retiring from the Air Force in 2002.  I was born an Air Force Brat and remained an Air Force brat even on my wedding day.  Colonel Dale Kissinger (USAF Ret) models integrity, excellence, service and courage. My husband, now a major in the Ohio Army National Guard, admits that when we were dating he knew right away that my dad was a great airman and one to be respected.  Friends and family echo the same sentiment.  I am a very lucky daughter to be able to call Col. Dale Kissinger, USAF Retired my father.

2) What acts or qualities inspired you?
Col. Dale Kissinger (USAF Ret) served on missions around the world.  The phrase "If I told you I'd have to kill you" is still a family joke.  However, we knew he was serious and we knew what he did was serious.  We knew as a helicopter rescue pilot at Keflavik NAS, Iceland that he was saving lives, civilians and fellow-service members; and then dropping off aid in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan years later was just as important.  We knew as his unit picked up a terrorist in Pakistan in a C-141 that lives were on the line, but the greater good of American citizens was foremost in his mind.  We knew when he cared for my mom shortly after retirement as she suffered through radiation and chemotherapy for breast cancer that his core Airmen qualities remained.  Service before self it is how I was raised and it is who he is.

3.) What branch do you relate to the most?
Even as an Army National Guard Wife I relate most with the Air Force.  It is in my roots, my blood, my heart.  I was born at an Air Force Base and then lived at or near 10 bases before I graduated from college.   "Off we go into the wild blue yonder" still can bring tears to my eyes.

4.) If you could say thanks how would it sound?
I would thank every Airman, Marine, Soldier, Sailor and Coastie that has served their country with honor.  I am one of the lucky few who can call a man of honor, 'Dad'.  I am blessed beyond measure.

Someday my own sons' will look back at their childhood and I often wonder how does my husband's service to their country impact them.  Three of four have faced deployment (the youngest is our 'post-deployment' baby). Our oldest has joined the Ohio Army National Guard himself.  When asked what my 5th grader wanted to be when he grew up he recently replied, 'An Army Engineer'.  Military service runs in their blood.  No matter what though, I know they are proud of their dad, their grandpa, and all of the veterans that have come before each of them.  To each veteran I say 'Thank you', today and everyday.

- Leanne, Army Wife, Air Force Brat, Mother of boys

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