Veterans Day is personal for IU student born into an Army family

Post by IU Newsroom intern Tori Lawhorn:

Tori with her dad

Tori Lawhorn pins an eagle shoulder board on her father Michael’s shoulder during his official promotion to colonel.

For me, Veterans Day is personal.

I was born into an Army family; my dad graduated from the Army ROTC program here at Indiana University in the late 1980s and has been in the armed forces ever since.

I have spent a maximum of only three years in one location. I have lived on opposite ends of the country. I have lived outside  the country. I know how to pack and unpack boxes like it’s my job. And it basically was my job for 18 years.

Throughout the years, I have lived in Maryland, Virginia, California, South Korea, New York and Florida. I have visited several countries, including China, Japan and Thailand.

The easiest question I will never be able to answer is, “Where are you from?” To be honest, I’m from nowhere. And everywhere.

Having to constantly adjust to new surroundings has made me the independent person I am today. I maneuvered the Seoul subway when I was 13 years old; I can walk up and talk to any person if I need help; and I know how to be incredibly resourceful (meaning I’m not entirely helpless when my phone dies). This is because I grew up Army.

Tori's dad

Michael Lawhorn during his first tour in Kabul, Afghanistan.

My father, Michael Lawhorn, is a colonel in the Army. Specifically, he is a public affairs officer. He is the chief of public affairs at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command in Fort Eustis, Va. However, as of a few weeks ago, he has been relocated to a temporary, one-year office in Kabul, Afghanistan. This is his second tour in Afghanistan.

Even though there is a nine-hour and 30-minute time difference between Indiana and Afghanistan, we still talk daily. I probably owe 95 percent of the communication capability to Apple’s iMessage technology, and I will be forever grateful.

Though it is hard having him gone, I know this is what he has to do as a soldier. As a senior officer, it is his job to look after his fellow soldiers and serve as a communications liaison between Afghanistan and the U.S.

Each year, Veterans Day is a time for me to reflect on how my life has been shaped because my father chose the Army as his career path. I reflect on all of the moves, the different military bases and the new friends I’ve made. However, I also reflect on the incredibly unique and adventurous life I have been able to live because my dad is in the Army.

Though times aren’t always the easiest, as with his current deployment, I know it is because service to this country is of the highest importance to him. It also helps that he’s astonishingly good at his job.

Happy Veterans Day, Dad. As always, thank you for your service.

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