By Contributing Writers Kelly Bell and Deanna Cooper
Dr. Jeannette Liu who is originally from California followed her father’s footsteps into the military. Her father, General Lien Yi Liu fled China to Taiwan due to political upheavals before bringing his family to America in search of a better life. He encouraged Jeannette, his oldest, to follow his footsteps into the military.
She completed her medical education on a military scholarship. On June 4, 1996 she was commissioned a wing commander in the U.S. Air Force at Maxwell Air Force Base in Birmingham, Alabama. Her inability to swim was one of the reasons she selected the Air Force, and when somebody asked her what she likes most about the military she answered that she is attracted by the discipline, emphasis on courage, leadership, athletics, initiative and the patriotic spirit for her country.
Liu served in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 as a neurosurgeon. Thanks to her martial background she can easily empathize with her fellow troops. For several reasons she supports the NATO involvement in Afghanistan. This war-ravaged nation’s infrastructure is in chaos, and NATO is attempting to rectify this situation through re-establishing productive agriculture, health systems and education. These crucial fields need to be implemented before western troops can withdraw.
Liu is distressed at how Afghan hospitals lack even such essentials as soap, water and paper towels. Still, not only Afghan nationals, but wounded soldiers from both sides, are being treated in these medical centers. The humanitarian cases are heartbreaking.
There are starving children and victims of war crimes. There is also a crying need for rehabilitation services in this country whose top products are rugs, precious stones and, especially, heroin. There is no real industry to provide jobs in this nation with such a violent history. Generations of Afghans had spent their lives fighting invaders and each other, meaning they have little grasp of the world as a whole. Their busy, violent lives have forced them to concentrate almost exclusively on their own country and the foreign powers that have targeted it. This has imposed on them a village mentality and a fierce independence. It is important for outsiders to understand this mindset if they are to make a positive impact.
As is typical of warrior-dominated societies, Afghan women are given very second-class-citizen status, and are not even allowed to be educated. This concerned Liu–would the locals accept a female doctor? Although some nationals are physicians, they would rather earn a living as interpreters because the doctors are poorly paid. Her desperately needed medical skills, however, seem to have impressed the locals more than their anti-female mores.
Now that she is back home working as a neurosurgeon at Good Shepherd Medical Center, she is impressed by the patriotic support East Texans are showing for the war effort. Liu is very appreciative of everyone who sent items for care packages. Donations to finance up to 107 care packages are very much needed. Those wishing to make financial contributions should go to 701 Marshall Avenue, 4th Floor of Good Shepherd Medical Plaza 1 (located between 4th Street and Marshall Avenue).
Capt Agnes Yau, a nurse and Dr. Liu’s point person in Afghanistan will be receiving and distributing the care packages. According to Liu, Yau and her squadron will be in Afghanistan for many more months and will be very appreciative of the shipment of donated items. Liu said, “I know that when I was deployed in Afghanistan, care packages were greatly appreciated. It was reassuring to know that people back home were thinking about us.”