Inspiring Stories

Service Thanks to Dad

The silver dollar

In my wallet, every day I carry a single large silver dollar coin. But it’s not any ordinary coin. It’s a symbol of so much more.

My father’s plan

I grew up in a military household. Yes, I was a “military brat.” My father, an Air Force Master Sergeant, was loving but strict. He instilled in us four main values: education, service to your country, God and family. 

My dad wanted each of his kids to serve at least three years in the military. As an ambitious student, upon graduation, I entered college and medical school… thinking that when I graduated I might be able to enter the workforce as a fine young physician. My father had other plans, of course. 

And so after completing med school, I signed up for my military service. It was 1991 and the height of the Gulf War. Some may not have considered it the ideal time to enlist, but I did it out of respect for my father and my country. It was the best move I could have ever made. 

Service to God and country

For three years, I was stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona. There, I worked side-by-side with other doctors, nurses and providers caring for families in our nation’s military. As a pediatrician, I had the honor of holding close the children whose moms and dads were serving far away from home, helping them in sickness and in health. We became a tight-knit community of military providers and families sharing in a single mission: preserving the health of families at home for our loved ones overseas.

It was a time in my life that prepared me so well for the life I lead today as a Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician. When I come to work, I bring with me all the experience and hard work I learned during my military career. I strive every day to give my patients the same devoted service I gave to our country. 

Earning the salute

As a physician, I entered the military as a lieutenant. Now, what many people may not know, is that newly commissioned military officers aren’t just given a salute. Those salutes are earned. 

There is a long-standing tradition where newly commissioned officers reach out to a mentor – usually, a noncommissioned officer who has helped along the way – and pays them a gesture of thanks in return for their first salute. It’s usually in the form of a silver dollar.

The silver dollar I carry in my pocket is from my first salute, which I received from my Master Sergeant father. When he passed away 17 years ago, I kept the coin as a reminder. 

What the it means to me

In my family of veteran brothers and sisters, holidays that pay tribute to our country also mean paying tribute to our father, a man I greatly respected and admired. He raised us to always embrace the importance of both education and service. And while it’s now been 17 years since my father passed, I feel blessed to follow in his footsteps and carry on his traditions. I feel his presence, and my love of country, every day in my pocket. This silver coin, like the memory of my father, never leaves my side.

Methodist Health System is proud to honor its more than 250 employees who served or are currently serving in our nation’s military. To all veterans, we say: Thank you for your service!

About the Author

Pediatrician Dr. Emilio Arispe is passionate about caring for children. His favorite aspects of pediatrics include being present from day one of his patients' lives and watching them grow into young adults.

You can visit Dr. Arispe at Methodist Physicians Clinic.

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