DVIDS – News – Military family helps evacuees transition to new life


A mother walks into an empty house in the middle of the morning, after working all night. She notices that the pile of dirty dishes is a little bigger than yesterday. She realizes that she misses her children’s first day of school.

Later that evening, a father picks up his children after their first day of school after a 12-hour shift. They ask him what’s for dinner: more leftovers.

For the Nguyen family, this has been their reality over the past few weeks while assisting with evacuation operations at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. U.S. Air Force Maj. Duy Nguyen, orthodontist with the 86th Dental Squadron, and his wife, civilian Faiza Nguyen, both worked long hours to support the mission while looking after their families.
Nguyen is the leader of the 86th Medical Group Crisis Action Team, while his wife translates and communicates with the evacuees.

Nguyen is responsible for coordinating evacuees’ health concerns with base management. He is particularly well prepared to help evacuees since he himself is a Vietnamese refugee. In this capacity, he helped the leaders understand the concerns of the evacuation operation.

“I felt I had to come forward for the evacuated families,” Nguyen said. “They come to the United States looking for a better future and more security for their families. Now is my opportunity to give back.

He wasn’t the only one in his family who felt the need to help. Faiza also shares the need to help and has contributed by being the sole translator – the only one during the first five days of the evacuation operation here. Originally from Pakistan, she sympathizes with families, just like her husband.

“These are my brothers and sisters, coming from a very close neighboring country,” Faiza said. “The team of linguists was looking for someone who would represent culture and know about religion. I knew I had to introduce myself.

Working long hours, the couple rarely saw each other. When they did, the power couple passed on information about operations and how to improve conditions when they actually saw each other.

“When she got home, we would have a quick transfer,” Nguyen said. “She gives me information on the ground about what evacuees are feeling and what they need and what needs they are expressing.”

Operation Allies Welcome signaled an immediate and unexpected change of mission that impacted the entire military community of Kaiserslautern. These changes happened overnight for the Nguyen family and many others in the region.

“One day we were just stay-at-home moms,” Faiza said. “The next minute we’re all wearing these different hats.”

It wasn’t just the couple who were part of the evacuation efforts. The whole Nguyen family helped everyone in their own way. Children also participated by donating clothes and toys, helping with household chores, or helping to disinfect bottles. More than that, the family relied on their community to help them with their daily chores so that the children’s lives were not affected too much.

“We would like to thank all of our friends who stepped in and our neighbors when they saw that we were in need,” Nguyen said. “We are so grateful for the support system we have here. We did not do this alone.
Being part of this mission reiterated that when a community comes together, anything is possible.

“There were so many hands involved and so many people who worked really long hours,” said Nguyen. “It was a gigantic effort. We are very grateful to all who participated and continue to be a part of this evacuation operation. ”

Date taken: 24.09.2021
Date posted: 09/27/2021 02:26
Story ID: 406062

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