Frontline Heroes: Friendship forged after nurse cares for nation’s hero

Frontline Heroes

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — With a career that spans more than 20 years, a nurse spends her days providing care at the Dayton VA Medical Center for those who fought for our country.

“I wish I would’ve joined the military,” admits Jessica Young. “That was always something that I was proud of some of my friends that had served in the past.”

But Jessica found another way to serve.

“It’s kind of nice to give back to heroes,” says Jessica. “This is the best way I could do it.”

An ER nurse at the Dayton VA, Jessica cares for a vulnerable population.

“He was real short of breath. He was having a hard time breathing, was real sweaty, very weak,” Jessica describes the symptoms that veteran Mike O’Hair had when he first fell into her care. “Since his condition was so critical, we were having a hard time stabilizing him to even get him to the ICU.”

Mike has been admitted to the hospital eight times in the last year.

“He had pneumonia and sepsis,” says Cheryl, Mike’s husband. “His oxygen level was so low they had to intubate him.”

“Every nurse and doctor there was just amazing,” Cheryl goes on.

But one nurse stood out to her–Jessica. Cheryl and her husband were drawn to Jessica’s cheerful personality and bedside manner.

“Every time she just took charge and was awesome,” says Cheryl.

“I was pretty much one-on-one with him for several hours, and I pretty much stayed past my shift to stay with him during the day,” says Jessica.

The two share a common bond, both serving on the front lines; but both have fought very different wars.

“[Veterans] remind you of things that are important. especially now with this crisis that’s going on,” states Jessica. “Someone like Mike–I was very worried about, and I even had told Cheryl I’ll be praying for y’all because if he got something like that [COVID-19], I think it would be devastating.”

Cheryl says Mike is doing well, and they keep in touch with Jessica, talking about common interests like fishing.

In return for Jessica’s constant compassionate care, she’s left with close relationships that mean so much.

“Treat them like you’d treat your family, and that’s kind of how Mike is to me,” says Jessica.

“We love her,” smiles Cheryl.

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