Veterinarian Serving U.S. Army Reserve Surprises Daughter
Although the Wisconsin Badgers slammed the Purdue Boilermakers 41 to 10 Saturday, September 21, the 80,000 fans watching the game most remember an event that occurred during an extended time out. As often happens at Badger games, a member of the military is honored. At this game, 13-year old Bella Lund made her way on to the field, donned in Badger gear, as the public address announcer said she was being singled out because her mother, a veterinarian, Army Reserve Captain Jane Renee (JR) Lund, of Madison, was deployed in Afghanistan.
The announcer added, “Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, please direct your attention to the south end zone and Bella – turn around and welcome your mother.”
At that moment, Dr. Lund appeared from the other side of the field. Bella had no idea her mom had returned from overseas. Mother and daughter ran toward one another and embraced, and tears flowed. Likely most of the crowd was also teary eyed, as they witnessed the reunion watching the jumbotron. But it didn’t end there – millions more have watched viral videos of the event.
“It was the idea of a friend; we thought it would be a nice surprise,” says Dr. Lund. “I had no idea that this would go viral.”
Lund, who is 36, says that the last time she had spoken to her daughter she told her she was coming home soon, but didn’t know when. “I don’t know how to describe the feeling,” she says, explaining that she didn’t even hear the wildly cheering crowd as she saw her daughter for the first time in six months.
As thrilling as seeing her daughter again is, and as happy as she is to be home – Lund concedes she left a bit of her heart in Afghanistan. “People view the country as a place where there is no vision for the future,” she says. “It’s true that what people there know may be limited, but then they are just like everyone else on the planet, wanting a better future for their own families.”
Toward the end of her deployment, Lund worked at a level three veterinary hospital. She explains that just as is the case in human military medicine, veterinary hospitals range from immediate triage care (level one) to hospitals that dogs may be medivacted into. She compares these hospitals to emergency veterinary facilities found in the states. “For elective surgeries, dogs are typically flown back to the U.S., but we can handle most emergencies,” she says.
Lund says she’s in awe of what the military working dogs are capable of. “I was fortunate enough to watch them train,” she says. “Unfortunately, in a place like Afghanistan we worry about IED’s (improvised explosive devises). The dogs effectively signal on them and save a lot of lives. Worst case scenarios, dogs end up sacrificing their lives to save the soldiers. That does happen. How can you not be impressed with these dogs?”
Lund also worked a part of a government sponsored agriculture program to assist local villagers. For her part, Lund taught locals how to better raise and care for farm animals.
While she was thrilled at the prospects of returning home, she says, “I made close ties with a lot of Afghans, and it was really difficult to just walk away from them. Working side-by-side with veterinary colleagues and medical doctors – who could make a whole lot more money in the states – was inspiring. People are helping because they want to make the world a better place.”
She doesn’t offer herself a pat on the back, but Lund is right there among those who simply want to serve others. Given the opportunity – either with the military or as a private citizen – she said she’d welcome the opportunity to continue to help in Afghanistan.
And if you haven’t see the video of Dr. Lund reuniting with her daughter Bella, here it is.
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services