#FACinfocus: Remembering The Fallen and The Sacrifices on Memorial Day

“My name is Captain Dela Pena and I am your nurse. You are in a hospital in Washington, DC. You were injured downrange and your family has been notified. They are on their way here.”

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“My legs hurt! (Reaches down to touch residual limb) Where are my legs?!!”

“I am so sorry to tell you but you lost your legs in the blast.”

“Where are my battle buddies? Where is Jason? Are they here too?”

How do I tell him his battle buddies didn’t survive?

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That was seven years ago for me. I was a critical care nurse at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. We received US soldiers who were critically ill patients three times a week from Iraq and Afghanistan. The dialogue above was a normal occurrence. It was a very humbling moment in my life. I learned to balance the physical and emotional demands of being an Army Nurse Corps Officer. Some days I felt like a rockstar in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). A patient’s heart would stop beating or lungs stop breathing and my fellow nurses and I would run a Code Blue and save that patient’s life. It was glorious and that high would last for days. Other days were super rough. Multiple patients dying, the trauma bay displaying a horrific blood shed massacre, and needing another runner to get more blood. Despite all the effort put in to saving someone’s life, another brother/sister in arms received their angel wings.

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I served on active duty for almost nine years as a proud Army Nurse. I moved to Los Angeles and considered a different path. I made the decision to purse acting. I no longer had my Army family at this new location where automatic friends was the norm. I was starting over after an amazing career in the military. So many thoughts went through my head. How do I start? Where do I go? How do people audition? I navigated my way blindly through google searches and word of mouth. I took classes and started auditioning. I met some great people here and there but I wanted to find a consistent core group of folks I could rely on to help challenge and inspire me. The stars aligned for me and I luckily met Kathleen while on the set of NBC’s This Is Us. She told me about FilAm Creative and what they were all about. I found FilAm Creative to be the perfect place to learn more about the industry, bring cultural awareness to Hollywood, and help support other creative people. We all have plenty of stories to share and now is the time to do so. Thank you FilAm Creative for your continued support throughout my journey and for embracing me with open arms.

Memorial Day is more than BBQs and a day off of work. Please take the time to remember the Fallen and the sacrifices they made to keep our country safe. Happy Memorial Day and thank you to our FAC family military veterans for all that you do.

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Written by Arlyn Dela Pena | Actress | Military Veteran | ICU Registered Nurse

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