INDIANAPOLIS — For seven years, Greg Hein served his country in the United States Army.
He says the experience of being an infantry soldier shaped who he was. His last mission was in the Gulf War for Desert Storm.
"As people come and thank me for my service, to me it's a dichotomy. Part of me wants to accept it ... deep down that was such an honor and a privilege. It's I who want to thank this country for giving me that opportunity and to be this person that I am today," Hein told WRTV.
When he got out, he wasn't entirely sure what he wanted to do next but eventually signed up for paramedic training.
"I met an old buddy of mine I hadn't seen in years ... and he said 'I'm a respiratory therapist." I said 'oh, what's that?'" Hein said. "Long story short, I really felt like that was going to be not just interesting, but a good thing to do and serve in life."
For the last ten years, Hein has worked at Riley Hospital for Children as a respiratory therapy supervisor. He says his military career taught him how to serve and be part of something bigger than himself.
Hein says there are similarities between serving in the military and serving in healthcare.
"There's a parallel to being humble and serving — that nature of serving, of being a part of something for the greater good, even when it's not easy," Hein said. "As you can imagine, through COVID times, there was nothing easy about it for any of us."
Like Army soldiers work together in combat, the team at Riley also works to help patients.
"I still remember my soldier's creed for the Army ... was to say 'I am an American soldier.' Now, I feel that in this life as a respiratory therapist ... I think it's a shared team here at [Riley], [we] have that same mentality ... that pride to say 'I worked at Riley.' That's what's a big part of this for me too."