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“My Point in Life Was Not to Go to War, It Was to Help Others Who Had”

Murkowski Honors U.S. Army Veteran, Alaskan Veteran Advocate

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski is releasing her 14th Veteran Spotlight installment today, featuring Wasilla resident James Hastings – a U.S. Army veteran who served 22 years in the Infantry.  After his time in the Infantry, Hastings went on to the U.S. Army Reserves and the Alaska National Guard before continuing his service to the nation by serving the battle wounded and battle weary in Alaska and beyond.

During his Veteran Spotlight interview, Hastings recalls being only 17 when he knew he wanted to carry on the tradition of military service his family started during the Civil War.  Hastings was assigned to the elite 82nd Airborne Division and trained all over the world.  He was in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell, returned to America and was stationed in Alaska at Fort Richardson.  Although he was active duty Army Infantry for 22 years, Hastings never saw active combat – something he says was hard to come to grips with. 

James Hastings, U.S. Army Veteran

(Click on image for excerpt of James talking about having to heal himself before he could help heal others, CLICK HERE for the extended interview)

Today, Hastings has devoted his life to helping other military members and veterans as the Alaska Employment Transition Coordinator for the Department of Defense’s Hero 2 Hired program and as the Director of Operations for the non-profit Alaska’s Healing Hearts.

“Everyone’s normal is different.  Normal for someone who has been on 6 or 7 deployments is combat, not going to the zoo with their kids,” said James Hastings. “We need to get them to a new normal of happiness, so at Alaska’s Healing Hearts, we try to get our warriors back to happy.  We try to instill a spirit of love, understanding and acceptance, and who cares what you had to do there- you’re not there, you are here.  And, every great memory that they make here takes space in their heads that can’t be occupied by bad stuff.”

“James Hastings’ story is one of a dedicated American,” said Senator Murkowski.  “He stepped up and served our country proudly, then devoted his life to helping his fellow soldiers and veterans.  James takes these warriors who have given so much to our nation and helps them find a little peace in the great Alaskan outdoors we all love.  We owe it to veterans like James to honor them by sharing their stories, and we owe it to the rest of us to learn from the high levels of patriotism, commitment and service they demonstrate.”

The “Veteran Spotlight” project is Senator Murkowski’s monthly focus on an Alaska veteran of American conflicts to honor and draw well-deserved attention to Alaska’s men and women who served.  Today’s installment is the fourteenth in the series that began on Memorial Day weekend of 2012.  Every month, Senator Murkowski posts a biography and an interview with an Alaskan who served our country in conjunction with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. Earlier this year, the interview series was recognized by the Library of Congress as a model way to demonstrate gratitude for the nation’s veterans. You can watch all the interviews by clicking here.

Senator Murkowski invites all Alaskans to nominate a veteran from the 49th state to be featured in the Veteran Spotlight project.  If you have a family member or friend in the community you think has a story to share, email Spotlight@Murkowski.Senate.Gov.

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