I had a really neat experience yesterday at work. Well, I don't know if "neat" is really the right word.
As I sat my first patient of the day, she handed me a form that she needed signed, one that I guess she had to take back to her military base. This may seem weird, but I've never really had much contact with any military personnel. As we talked, she explained that she needed to get her teeth taken care of before she left for her second tour. She was going to Iraq this time. I couldn't imagine she was much older than me, and when I asked, she said she would be celebrating her 22nd birthday next month. Same as me. I started to feel the tears build as she told me she spent her 19th birthday in Afghanistan. She met her husband there, they've been married for just over a year. Same as Stu and I. I just couldn't believe how young she was, and how much she has had to face already in her life. But she had no fear, no hesitation in her voice when she told me, "it's just what I've always planned to do." As she left, I teared up again and asked if I could give her hug, which seems like such a small act now. I just needed some way to show my gratitude. She was gracious and obliged, then left for another day of "work."
To all those who have dedicated their lives in service to this country and the millions of people you don't even know, thank you.