MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — During two tours, one in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, Jen Merrill used her skills as a pilot to help others.
“When you are flying in and picking people up and trying to help out it just kind of hits you right here,” Merrill said.
For Merrill, wearing the uniform and serving others is part of her DNA.
“My dad was in the Army, my brother was in the Navy, my sister was in the Navy, my other brother was in the Air Force,” she said.
Merrill is also proud to wear another uniform, when she serves the citizens of Minneapolis as a police officer.
“Leadership, loyalty, duty, respect, all that kind of stuff that goes towards being a police officer, too. You take all those traits with you. I learned all that in the military first, so it’s a standard that I live by,” Merrill said.
On Veterans Day, Merrill can’t help but to think about all who have served, and reflect on her time in the military.
“Serving overseas is not easy, long days, some tough missions but it’s all worth it in the end when someone who may or may not be in the military thanks you for what you do. I really appreciate that,” she said.
Merrill says it is an honor to see support for veterans.
“You go on Facebook and its just ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.’ I woke to I don’t know how many texts thanking me for my service,” she said.
And an even bigger honor to serve on the Minneapolis Police Department with others who wore a military uniform first.
Merrill says they all share one thing.
“The need to serve, the need to be a part of something bigger,” she said.
Merrill says working the streets of Minneapolis is an honor just like serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
She says she’s fortunate her husband Roger shares her passion for service as well.
“We went on our first deployment together, stuck together, got married eventually and went on our second deployment and the rest is history,” she said.
History will show Merrill and other veterans will continue to be our heroes because of their commitment to protecting our freedoms.