"Kissing the War Goodbye" Photo by Victor Jorgensen, US Navy Photo Journalist | Public Domain
Story by Liesel Schmidt
Recreation Photography by Magdalena Papaiouannou
"The Kiss Project" was created by VIP Alexandria Magazine in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the End of WWII. The iconic "Kissing the War Goodbye" photo by Victor Jorgensen, US Navy Photo Journalist | Public Domain, was taken in Times Square on August 15, 1945. The recreations of this image were taken in Old Town, Alexandria, VA in May 2020 using real women who are currently serving on two fronts; as Military Spouses and as Nurses fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the story of Jen Hensarling, Family Nurse Practitioner
In Jennifer Hensarling’s fifth grade yearbook, she stated that she wanted to be a children’s doctor when she grew up. It was a prediction made by a little girl who loved the idea of taking care of people. That heart for caring stayed with her throughout her young life, inspiring her to organize charity events for hospitals and volunteer at the local hospital as soon as she was old enough.
Encouraged by her grandmother and stepmother, Jennifer enrolled in nursing school after graduating from high school. It was during her second year at Gonzaga University that she met the man that would become her husband, a guy from her hometown 350 miles away. Now married 15 years, she is the mother of two children and has become a seasoned military spouse whose career as a nurse has taken her far, through various aspects of medical care and even abroad. From caring for Alzheimer’s patients and disabled adults to working as a cardiac care nurse, her early years in nursing were pivotal in shaping her. Five years in, her husband’s orders to Brussels, Belgium, gave her the opportunity to work at the Embassy Health Clinic while she pursued her post-graduate degree and completed the clinical hours required to become a Nurse Practitioner. She even had the unique opportunity to train at the NATO health care facility in Belgium. Now a Family Nurse Practitioner, she has found her greatest passion in working with children and their families.
“Being a military spouse, I have learned to be ready for change, whether that means moving to a new duty station or adapting to my husband leaving for training or deployments. It has helped me to be creative with resources and taught me to be comfortable in asking for help as well as being ready to give help. It has also given me an appreciation for our community because it takes a village!”
Continuing that passion hasn’t been easy during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has been furloughed from the private practice where she had been working. “I was pretty saddened with being furloughed,” she says. “I felt as if I were a trained soldier ready to head to war but told I couldn't go! I applied to hospitals and signed up to volunteer, wanting to use my skills to help. Unfortunately, without the ICU or recent hospital experience, I did not get called in. Thankfully, it turned into an amazing opportunity to spend more time at home with my children and my husband, who has never spent so much time at home since joining the military!”