Happy Veteran's Day to my father, to those who served, who are currently serving, and to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I hold you all so high in my book. My father, SSG Russell William Joseph, was born in Bronx, NY on July 5th, 1956. Putting it mildly, he had a less than "ideal childhood." He practically raised himself and his 3 younger siblings (2 of whom already passed). At 18, the street life of New York and Long Island finally caught up with him. He got into some legal trouble and when the judge told my father, "Military or Jail?" My father chose the U.S.A.F. and it forever changed his life by giving him the structure and self confidence; which he so desperately needed.
He met my mom while stationed at Offutt A.F.B. They got married at 20 years old in 1977, and are still married. They had 4 daughters, including me. My dad was with me during my cancer treatments, he would be wearing his fatigues while I was throwing up due to chemo. My dad taught me to be tough, he'd never let me cry about my situation and he is why I'm confident in who I am to this day. In 1991, right after I went into remission, he went to serve in Desert Storm; years later he was diagnosed with PTSD, but is still so proud of serving his country for over 20 years.
Today, my father dedicates his life to helping veterans; especially disabled. He and his, DAV, "Brothers and sisters," go out on their bikes across Iowa to help with funerals and to counsel newly injured vets. When his friend, who happens to be transgender, needed to have an extensive neck surgery. My dad, flew up to Alaska to aide her because she had no family who would. My father is a class act, humble, loving man who'd give the shirt off his back to anyone regardless of race, color, or gender. He taught me loyalty, respect, and you're only as good as your word, "Do what you say, and say what you mean, Veronica." Love you, dad and most of all, thank you for your service. -Hayley Veronica (your twin and Spook baby).
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