Veteran speaks to FDA students, faculty

Published 2:40 pm Friday, November 11, 2011

For Brad Fields a trip to the local grocery store late last month was a bit overwhelming.

As the Kentucky native walked up and down the aisles of the store, he almost couldn’t believe how many choices there were of the same kind of product.

“There were 15 different choices of everything, and the reason we have so many choices is because of the freedom we have in this country,” he said.

Freedom bought and protected by our nation’s veterans, a group that includes Capt. Brad Fields.

Fields, a member of the United States Army Reserve, recently completed a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. On Friday, he served as the keynote speaker at Fort Dale Academy’s Veterans Day assembly.

“I feel so unqualified to be here,” Fields said. “There are so many other veterans who have served their country, some in this room, who should be sharing their stories instead, but I’m honored to be here and have the chance to speak on their behalf.”

Fields, who joined the Army in 2008 out of a desire give back to a country that had given him so much, shared about his experiences at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan working alongside Marines, many of whom were fresh out of high school, and another group of soldiers that don’t often receive the same attention as their comrades.

“Our furry, four-legged soldiers tend to get forgotten, but serve a vital role in helping protect our soldiers,” Fields, a veterinarian with the Army said.

Fields, a graduate of Auburn University’s veterinarian school, served in a unit that provided medical care for the military’s working dogs, many of which are trained to detect bombs.

“It’s hard to have a bad day when you’re working with Labrador retrievers,” Fields said. “They start wagging their tails and give you that goofy grin and it just does your heart good.”

One of the dogs that Fields cared for was a member of the team that took down Osama bin Laden.

While Fields recounted a few of his stories from his deployment, he chose instead to focus much of his speech on the sacrifice of other veterans and their families.

“Less than 1 percent of our population serves in the military,” he said. “It’s remarkable that such a tiny percentage does so much for us, and their sacrifice, and the sacrifices of their family and friends, should be commended and celebrated. Veterans Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate the service of our veterans. But every day should be Veterans Day. Without them, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we all enjoy. Everything we do on a daily basis is in part because of the service of a veteran.”