Veteran Yelena Fleming Gives and Her Children Receive


Yelena Fleming poses with her two daughters, Nicole and Michaela. Photo courtesy of Yelena Fleming.

Sean Browne, Editor in Chief

Being a U.S. Marine means making difficult sacrifices and for Yelena Fleming this meant having to put her adopted country over her personal life.

Fleming immigrated from Moscow to America at 15 and at 18-years-old felt like she needed to find a purpose in life.

“I joined the Marines because I could not decide what I wanted to do after high school,” Fleming said. “I wanted to do something meaningful, so I figured that joining the military would give me a purpose.”

She found her purpose as an administrative clerk in the Marines, Fleming also felt like she did not fit in due to her foreign background.

“At first it was difficult because there was a huge cultural shock,” Fleming said.”  Just being in the military in a different country is even more of culture shock, but with time I was able to adjust.”

Being away from her seven and five year old children, Nicole and Michaela respectively, was not something  easy for Fleming to adjust to, however.

It got worse for Fleming when she was deployed to Iraq and then Spain as she was not able to see her kids for an extended period of time.

“Being away from my kids was definitely the hardest thing to do. Just not being able to see them at times would make me very sad,” Fleming said.

“When you wake up in the morning before they do and you come home and they are already asleep is tough. Technically we lived in the same house but I just did not see them that much.”

Fleming came to New York for a fresh start when her time in the military ended. She transferred to Pace to continue her education.

Aside from advancing her education, Fleming is happy that she gets to spend more time with her children.

“I do not know if I will ever be able to make up for the lost times with them,” Fleming said.” But it is definitely nice to be with them now because they grow up so fast and I just want to spend as much time with them as I can.”

When Fleming spends time with them, she tells her children about her experiences in the Marines, as well as participating with them in events honoring the military.

One of those events is the Veterans Day Parade on Friday. Fleming’s children will be a part of the parade.

“They get to be on one of the floats in the parade,” Fleming said. “It is a great opportunity for them and such a great experience. As a veteran it’s a great feeling knowing that your kids are honoring something I did.”