By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
They were just 17 years old when they enlisted in the U.S. military.
They were kids who needed a parent’s signature to allow them to move ahead on a path that would shape the rest of their lives.
Julie Moreno and James Herald don’t know each other, but they are among the 1.6% of Riley Children’s Health team members who have identified themselves as veterans. Of IU Health’s 38,000-plus combined team members throughout the state, 869 identify as veterans (2.24%).
Moreno is a certified pharmacy technician in Riley’s inpatient pharmacy, and Herald is a patient care technician at the Charis Center for Eating Disorders, which is under Riley’s umbrella.
Today, we salute them and all of our military – past and present.
“TOP GUN” GLAMOUR
Moreno joined the U.S. Air Force in 1986, pumped up by the popularity of the first “Top Gun” film, which was released that year. And yes, she said, she has seen the new one.
“It was kind of corny, but it took me back. I just gave myself over to it and the old days.”
She trained in Mississippi before being stationed in Hawaii until her four-year commitment was up in 1990. Part of that time she worked in a tunnel carved into the side of a mountain, where she listened in on radio communications from China, using her training in Morse code to deliver messages to her commanders.
Pretty heady stuff for a teenager, but Moreno often finds herself downplaying her own military service, reserving her kudos for family members and others who she says sacrificed more, particularly those who served in times of conflict.
“It took me half my life to accept that I’m worthy of a thank you,” she said.
Nonetheless, she is proud of her service and says it gave her opportunities she wouldn’t have had if she had stayed in her small Kentucky hometown.
Joining the military, she said, “was my way to get out on my own and take care of myself.”
And it taught her lessons that have stayed with her.
Instead of intercepting Chinese communications, her mission now is caring for the kids at Riley.
“It’s the core of what we do,” she said. “It’s about teamwork, working together toward one goal.”
Outside of Riley, the mother of a teenage son is passionate about running, something she picked up in basic training, and she has more recently taken up art, showcasing several pieces in the IU Simon Cancer Center art show.
DISCIPLINE, TEAMWORK, LEADERSHIP
James Herald has been with IU Health for 18 years, the past five at the Charis Center, located on the northwest side of Indianapolis.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army while still in high school in Richmond, Indiana, figuring it offered him a better future than the path he was on.
“Back then, in all honesty, I wasn’t doing constructive things,” he said. “I had enough insight to realize I’m going to have to get out of here before I get myself in trouble.”
He completed high school while on a delayed entry program, then went off to basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, followed by artillery training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
From there, he was off to Germany, where he served from 1976 to 1979. When his tour was up, he returned to Richmond for six months before re-enlisting for another four years.
Herald began working with children and adolescents suffering mental health issues in Richmond after he returned from his second stint in the Army. He moved to Indianapolis and worked in another treatment facility before joining IUH.
“I fell in love with working with people who are marginalized,” he said. “That’s where my heart went.”
He worked at Methodist for 12 years, then Riley Hospital and now at Riley’s Charis Center, which provides outpatient treatment for young people suffering eating disorders.
He preps meals and snacks each day for the kids, leads them in a group session on goal-setting and makes sure they get to all of their activities for the day, including therapy, school, recreation and meals.
The Charis Center has a classroom with a dedicated teacher, Lisa Truitt, who is part of the Riley School Program. The onsite classroom is equipped with computers and a library, and Truitt works with each patient’s home school to ensure they stay on task.
Herald says his military background taught him how to relate to all kinds of people, a skill that continues to serve him well.
“In the military, they first break you down, then build you up into what they want you to be,” he said. “It taught me discipline, teamwork and leadership. All of that from a raw 17-year-old into a soldier. It was a good thing for me.”
And one more thing. It taught him the value of ironing.
“I can’t walk out of the house with my clothes looking like a road map,” he laughed. “I have to iron.”
A father of two grown sons, Herald’s office reveals a glimpse into his personal life – pictures of his grandkids and his “diva” cat Sadie, along with a plethora of plants.
“They call me the plant whisperer around here because I take care of everybody else’s plants.”
Herald might not have his Army-issued uniform anymore, but he carries with him all of the lessons learned and the pride he still feels for having served.
“I’m grateful for having served. It’s made me who I am. Veterans have a lot to offer because of their skill sets and their training, and I wonder if that is recognized as much as it should be.”
Photos provided and by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, email@example.com