A Tale of Two Veterans
Jasmine White and Ed Trainor bridge the generation gap at Long Island State Veterans Home
America’s heroes come in all shapes, sizes, ages and genders — like Jasmine White and Ed Trainor. Jasmine is a 24-year-old Stony Brook senior who is a U.S. Marine Corps reservist. Ed, 91 years young, is an Army veteran of World War II. They met at the Long Island State Veterans Home (LISVH),where she is an intern and he is a resident, and now they are great friends.
Jasmine is not your stereotypical U.S. Marine. The mathematics and economics major with sparkling eyes and an unwavering smile still looks like the ingénue she was when she studied theater at the High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts in New York City. After earning her associate’s degree from the Borough of Manhattan Community College, she was determined to continue her education but was concerned about the cost. By chance, she came across an ad in a magazine that detailed a great way to help pay for college while getting valuable experience. It was an ad for the U.S. Marine Corps.
"I went to a recruitment office to check it out," Jasmine recalled. "The next thing I knew I was standing on a pair of yellow footprints painted on the ground of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina. They had already issued us our Marine pants but I still had my UGG mid-calf boots on from home – and I couldn’t get the pants down over the boots. The next thing I knew all these people were yelling at me, 'Recruit – get those pants down! Get ’em down!' I said to myself, 'Oh my God, what have I done!'"
Thirteen weeks later boot camp was over and Jasmine was a U.S. Marine. After a year of training, she became a member of the Marine Forces Reserve 6th Communications Battalion, headquartered at Floyd Bennet Field in Brooklyn. After she graduates from Stony Brook in May, she will enroll in Officer Candidates School, then continue her education at the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Engineering program.
Jasmine currently holds two internship positions at the LISVH. She works in human resources and is also a certified nursing assistant (CNA). It is through her work as a CNA that she got to know many of the LISVH residents. She has become particularly close with Ed and Jo Trainor from West Bay Shore, Long Island. The Trainors have been married for 69 years and still behave like sweethearts. Ed has been a resident of the LISVH for nearly three years. Jo joined him there a year ago. Jasmine visits with them whenever she has a chance. They talk about their military experiences, their families or just the events of the day. "We just met and made friends," Jo Trainor said. "We laugh at the same things."
Jasmine is especially fascinated by Ed’s World War II stories. A master sergeant in the 4th Infantry Division, Ed took part in the D-Day invasion at Normandy. But his most memorable experience happened outside a chicken coop on the border between Germany and France.
"We were approaching a ridge when I heard a noise to my right, and there was a big guy in a white shirt who had just crashed into a chicken coop. He looked over at me and shouted, 'Get that chicken!' So I got the chicken and gave it to the guy. And the guy turned out to be Ernest Hemingway. After that, we made friends and stayed friends even after the war."
Lately, Jasmine and the Trainors have been talking a lot about Veterans Day. Of course, at the LISVH every day is Veterans Day, because providing rehabilitation services, long-term care and adult day care for nearly 400 American former servicemen and women is a 24/7, 365-day job.
But on America’s official Veterans Day, they go all out. Their annual multi-generational ceremony includes students from the New Lane Elementary School in Selden, members of the New York Army National Guard in Farmingdale and, naturally, the LISVH residents and staff. This year, through the UUP’s Hats for Heroes project, every resident will receive a new hat from his or her branch of the military. And for dinner that night – filet mignon!
Jasmine is really looking forward to this year’s festivities. Before she joined the Marines, Veterans Day was just a day off from school — now it’s so much more. It’s about the men and women she sees every day at the LISVH and all the members of America’s armed forces.
"Without those people I wouldn’t be able to do what I do," she said. "I hope someday someone will say that about me."