WASHINGTON –Jim Czarnik turned swiftly to his three-year-old daughter as she ran into a neighbor’s yard on a sunny spring afternoon.
“Sasha, stop!” Czarnik shouted angrily to his child, who had spotted a ball to play with. His mind had flashed back to his three-month deployment and suddenly he imagined his toddler running across a minefield instead of a green lawn. He pivoted to his battlefield instincts where he remembered that moving on hard packed roads usually meant safety from mines.
When he saw Sasha step off the sidewalk that spring day in 2002, it sparked a reaction in Czarnik, who instinctively tried to protect his daughter as if she were one of his Soldiers.
“Jim,” his wife said. “It’s a ball.”
Czarnik, then a young emergency medicine physician and Army officer who had just returned from his second overseas mission, stood perplexed. After visiting an ice cream parlor…