Shipmate of the Week – Alena Deveau
Posted by LT Stephanie Young, Friday, April 6, 2012
At only 17, Alena Deveau has traveled to all but one U.S. state. What motivated her to travel across the country? Well it wasn’t necessarily a motivation but a way of life. The way of life for a military child. With her father serving in the Coast Guard, her family experienced “home” in many places. From Alaska – twice! – to Connecticut, the Deveaus have certainly felt the rigors of sticking together as a military family.
Deveau has acquired an incredibly close bond with her family – due in no small part to driving cross-country with them four times – and considers them her “best friends.” As a military child, Deveau has grown wise and mature beyond her years; so much so that she was the support her family depended on when their lives changed drastically.
Capt. Paul Deveau, a nonsmoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer while Alena was in the seventh grade. About a year after he was diagnosed, the family found out it had metastasized to his hip and brain. He was treated for both and was chemotherapy dependent for years.
From the beginning of her senior year of high school, her father was hospitalized for months because of the side effects from the chemotherapy, and Deveau’s mother, Andrea, remained by his side the entire time.
While this all came as a shock to the family, Deveau knew her family needed her more than ever and took control of supporting the household. Running errands, laundry, cleaning, dishes and groceries – Deveau did it all.
Along with day-to-day tasks and finding time to apply for colleges, Deveau took on responsibilities far beyond her years. She met with a medical company to pick up necessary equipment, stayed overnight with her dad at the hospital and drove her younger sister to lessons and practices. From preparing meals to bringing food to the hospital to celebrate holidays, Deveau’s family could depend on her for anything. Even meeting with plumbers to discuss a waterline break repair!
“She knows that in giving her time and energy it brings us all closer and also gives within each of us a feeling of peace,” said her mother. “What priceless gifts.”
She balanced supporting her family at home on top of maintaining her honors in school. Deveau also continued to fulfill her duties as an officer in both the National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. And with all of this, she still found time to compete in varsity field hockey, playing well enough to make first team all-district.
It was tough getting her work done, but for Deveau it all came back to family.
“I get through it with family and friends,” said Deveau. “It’s just one day at a time and in slow steps.”
“I have to say, not only is Alena’s diligence in keeping up her honors in her school work, sports and clubs a gift to us, but her unsolicited help that she gives to our family is also truly a gift,” said her mother. “With an uplifted spirit, she has overseen the responsibilities that her dad and I typically do.”
Deveau never hesitated to support her family in any way they needed it. For her, it was all about being the best member of the family she could be. Something she says she learned from his father and his service to his nation.
“I love the Coast Guard. I like how it’s smaller and everyone knows each other and everyone feels like a family. We stick together,” said Deveau. “I really saw how it all comes together, especially in the past couple of months. My father’s classmates from the Coast Guard Academy would come for hours and read with him and pray with him or bring dinner. They all really cared for him.”
“I grew up with Coast Guard and its part of me and who I am,” added Deveau.
Now medically retired, Deveau’s father is currently in full-time physical therapy as a result of his long-term hospitalization and radiation side effects. During all of the appointments and medical visits Deveau has stood by her father, she has also found a new passion. When Deveau graduates from high school this year she would like to attend college and pursue a career in physical therapy. Through the rehabilitation process with her father, she has learned just how critical therapy support is and would like to help others.
We wish you the best of luck, Alena! Congratulations on being selected as the Coast Guard recipient of Operation Homefront’s Military Child of the Year. We are proud to call you a shipmate and even prouder to have you as part of the Coast Guard family.