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Vetsstory hero
• Nov 9, 2021

TD celebrates the dedication and bravery of all military personnel and their families this National Veterans and Military Families Month. We have a growing community of veterans who bring a unique perspective to our business and a passion for going above and beyond. Our mission is to build upon our commitment by creating a community where all active duty, reserve, former military and services members can share their experiences, grow their careers and raise awareness of veteran matters to our colleagues, customers and communities.

Donna Christian developed a reverence and love for the military early in life, growing up in a family with four World War II veterans, including an aunt who worked as a registered nurse in the Women’s Army Corps.

A month before graduating from The College of New Jersey in 1971, she started her own journey as a military wife. Her future husband was an Army staff sergeant working in the Military Police at Fort Dix after two tours in Vietnam, where he had served in the 101st Airborne Division. They married after a brief courtship.

Fifty years later, Donna, who joined TD Bank in February and works as a customer experience coordinator in a store located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, remains a strong supporter of military troops and veterans. She’s also befriended a local veteran-owned TD small business customer who has decorated his shop with military memorabilia.

Donna appreciates TD’s commitment to supporting and honoring veterans and others, including victims of natural disasters. As Veterans Day approached, she reflected on her feelings about those who serve.

“As I grew older and matured, I realized the sacrifice that is made on behalf of the military families and veterans and how they protect our freedoms and the lives that we have in the United States,” she said.

Donna expressed gratitude for TD Bank's decision this year to observe Veterans Day as a paid holiday for colleagues.

"What a great gesture on TD's behalf, coming at a pivotal time with the recent withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan," she said. "TD is honoring these veterans in such a respectful and supportive way, while paying homage to the many veterans who returned from previous wars and conflicts."

Life as a military family

Two months after their wedding, her husband was deployed to Busan (then Pusan), South Korea. Donna, who was 21 years old and newly pregnant with their daughter, joined him there. The experience was amazing, she said.

“I was thrilled. They were lovely, lovely people. I learned the language pretty well,” she said.

Donna worked as a teacher -- first at a military school on the compound, then at an international school. She started teaching about a month after her daughter's birth; her husband received special permission to extend their stay by two years beyond the one-year deployment so she could keep teaching. “I loved it. I loved it very much and I was very sad to leave,” she said.

Giving Back

After their time in Busan, the family returned to the U.S., where Donna’s husband was stationed, initially at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia, then at Fort Story in Virginia Beach.

When her husband was deployed to Germany, Donna and their daughter lived in a Virginia Beach townhouse. A Navy wife in the townhouse next door became her best friend. “You bond because everybody’s in the same sort of situation. It’s almost like a sisterhood in a sense. It’s amazing,” she said.

At the same time, having a husband deployed far away proved challenging. “It's hard. Back then they didn’t have cell phones. He wanted to call me every day,” she said, remembering the expense of long-distance calls and the need to be home to receive them at specific times.

“Unfortunately, things didn't work out for us when he came back," Donna said. They subsequently divorced.

While Donna lost touch with her military friends, she maintains her bond to the armed forces and veterans. She volunteered as a financial literacy counselor at recruiting centers and at a VA hospital, and donates to military charities.

Donna gives to the Wounded Warrior Project; Operation Homefront, which provides financial help and other support to military and veteran families; the Til Valhalla Project, which delivers memorial plaques to families of fallen troops and first responders and aims to reduce veteran suicide; and the USO.

After growing up as a military kid, her daughter, Tracey, who lives in Colorado, shares Donna’s passion for giving back to those who have served and is working toward a master’s degree in mental health counseling for the military.

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t support the war, you have to support the people who signed up to fight for us,” said Donna, lamenting the way Americans treated soldiers returning from the unpopular Vietnam War. “I think it’s so very important that we do that...It’s not a political thing, it's a human thing to do that.”

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