Geoff and Laura with their children Logan, Rowan, and Harlow – Disney World ’16
There are few greater titles earned by a man than Marine and Father.
For those Americans who are both fathers and Marines, we reflect today on where those responsibilities intersect. For many of us, the duties of being a Marine and the responsibilities of being a father are often driven by the same motivation–love of others. At his core, a father supports his family through his presence and his sacrifice. He works for them with his career, he offers them his love and compassion, he guides them, he celebrates with them, and he protects them from harm. To him, this definition applies to both his family and his country. He gives of himself wholeheartedly without asking for anything in return; this is the same as the generations of fathers who came before us and those who came before them.
Sometimes, the duty to serve family can overlap with a man’s duty to serve his country. Each responsibility is individually challenging alone, but to thrive at both requires something greater.
Lcpl Heath, Left center, Ramadi ’06
Marines like Geoff Heath, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, are among those who know this challenge well.
Geoff left his job working for the Miami Dade Medical Examiner’s office to pursue his calling as a Grunt. Geoff earned the title Marine at Parris Island in 2003 and served on three combat deployments; with Kilo 3/7 to Ramadi, Iraq (2005 and 2006) and then with Charlie 1/6 in Afghanistan (2010), where he fought in close combat with the Insurgency. While conducting a dismounted patrol during the infamous Operation Moshtarak – the battle to clear the Taliban stronghold of Marjah – his patrol was targeted by a homemade Improvised Explosive Device. His platoon Corpsman and he were just 15 feet from the blast, he was wounded, and later diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.
His children, Logan and Rowan, were ages four and one at the time.
At this point in his life, Geoff medically retired and he faced the challenges of returning to a civilian carer and full time Fatherhood.
As a returned veteran running a small business, Geoff devotes every day to building strong bonds with his children. He said he is, “helping to mold and mentor their character to prepare them for life.” The kids take after their father; they are remarkably resilient. Logan loves swimming and shooting. Rowan, gifted with athleticism and strength, has a knack for Tae Kwon Do and muscling her dad through the pool in a mock rescue drill. Harlow loves to dance, help dad plow the fields for the family’s now second business venture – and swim. They inherited their father’s amphibious genes.
More recently, the Heaths were the recipients of a new, mortgage-free home from Operation Finally Home. They currently reside in Estero, Florida where they continue to spend plenty of time together. Geoff donates his free time to the 03XX Foundation helping other Marines with service-connected disabilities navigate the VA claims process.
This Father’s Day, we celebrate and honor the men who’ve served two masters. Both roles are a rite of passage – titles that you earn and keep for life. If you are yourself a veteran father; we salute you. If you have a veteran father, be sure to thank them today for standing on a wall one moment and coming home to splash in the pool with you the next.
Happy Father’s Day,