CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait –
As March, and Women’s month comes to a close, we approach April, and Month of the Military Child. The 3d Medical Command (Deployment Support), spotlights 3d MC(DS) Forward, deployed mother, Col. Belinda J. Coakley.
Coakley is part of a military Family, she has been married for 22 years, to her husband Paul, a retired Lt. Col, and they have a 16 year old son, Paul. She previously served 10 years on active duty before joining the Army Reserve and currently employed at Vanderbilt Medical Center where she manage the Vanderbilt Surgery Center specializing in Orthopedics.
Coakley, is currently deployed as Chief Nurse and Kuwait LNO for 3D MED CMD FWD.
“This was my first deployment, I really did not know what to expect but this deployment has been very enriching for me. It has been a lot to learn with a lot of expectations,” said, Coakley.
For Coakley, her biggest pride is always her son, but for the deployment, the biggest accomplishments of deployment has been the partnership exchanges. “The Opportunity to work with the host nation hospital sharing and exchanging lessons learned. During this pandemic coordinating the distribution and administration of COVID 19 Vaccines within our area of responsibility. Interacting with all the joint services (AFCENT, NAVCENT and MARCENT) to effectively get our service members vaccinated in six countries,” she said.
Coakley is motivated by the Army Value of Selfless Service, saying, “You sacrifice yourself, for your family, you honor those who came before you and you stay the course. Family means everything, but first I give all the honor to God, who continues to keep my family safe.”
For the Coakley’s, Family success has been a team effort. “It started with my husband, he deployed back in 2003 to Afghanistan. My husband's civilian job had him traveling a lot so it was just me and my son. I was mom and dad. I was the one there for all the sport games and practices he had to attend, plus I worked a full time job. But I never let my son feel like he could not be a part of whatever he wanted to do. He took music lessons, played sports; baseball, football and now his LOVE is Lacrosse where he is a middle field player (middie),” she said. Adding, as only a mother can, “I am so proud of my son. He is a good kid, but he is a teenager. He is very fast in his running ability, he takes after his mom, I ran when I was in school.”
Strength and support is critical for deployed Military Family and deployments rarely come at an ideal time. “Being apart from him has been hard but he is maturing. I feel if there was a good time to be apart now would be that time. At 16 years old he is driving and taking care of himself. We talk every day. We have a very open communication environment and he has his father to talk with as well,” she said.
Looking beyond deployment, the future for Coakley remains positive and focused on spending time with Family, saying, “I plan to retire in 2022 from the military with 36 years of honored service and it’s time to enjoy my son’s last high-school experience.”