Army Sgt. Janine Spencer, 2012 - 2018, grew up in LaBelle, and has recently returned to her hometown. She is a budding watercolor artist who loves to paint plein-air along the Caloosahatchee. She has worn combat boots, practiced shooting machine guns, led soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and throughout it all learned about the meaning of service. She says she was always taught, from a young age, a philosophy that, “When you see something wrong you should do something about it.” This instilled a sense of pride, discipline, strength, and sense of service inside her that drove her to want to join the army from as far back as she can remember.
Spencer explains that, due to things encountered during deployment loud noises and lights can sometimes trigger her PTSD and that this is a familiar problem for many veterans. Even though it is difficult to put into words, how terrifying displays of patriotism, via fireworks, may affect a veteran, particularly one with post-traumatic stress disorder on Independence Day, Spencer asked me to make sure this was the main point of her interview and her story.
She also says, “Independence Day is an excellent day to pause and recognize those who have worked hard to protect our freedom. On the Fourth of July, this year, I’d like to encourage everyone reading this article to find a veteran, shake their hand and thank them for their service. While this is always a humbling experience for me, it also reminds me of the pride and the privilege, I have after making the choice to serve my country. So, please thank a veteran today.”
Spencer also says, “If you, or a veteran you know, is experiencing difficulty, there is help. Visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ for hotline, text, and chat options for someone to talk to and provide support without judgement. Please reach out.”
Thank you all for your service, veterans! Have a safe and fun Fourth of July!