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POV Regarding War

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Q&A with Kanani Fong

written by Matt Elliott
on August 17, 2010

Kanani Fong is a writer and the wife of an Army surgeon. She runs a blog called The Kitchen Dispatch and will be contributing to Regarding War as one of our guest bloggers. As means of an introduction, we asked Kanani a handful of questions about her life before and after she became a military spouse.

Kanani Fong.jpg

You're not exactly what people think of when they think Army wife, are you?
I'm a midlife Army wife. For 23 years, I ran our surgery practice in addition to pursuing a niche in writing, raising the kids and managing employees, the business and our household as a civilian. In an unusual twist of life, we're in the Army now. I have a military spouse blog called The Kitchen Dispatch, where I talk about everything from war to literature.



What does your husband do?
He's an active duty soldier in the U.S. Army who serves as a surgeon. He, along with other doctors like him, bring decades of clinical, surgical and administrative experience to the Medical Corps. Last year he was in Afghanistan, which I chronicled on my milblog. Now, he's at an Army hospital having fun there.



Really?
The medical corps is looking for docs with 20 years of experience who can also pass the physical requirements. Not surprisingly, it's a natural transition; in private practice one handles a great range of patients. They treat everyone. He's not the only doc in there over 50 who went through trial by fire out in the private sector. Believe me, when you've handled patients in East L.A. or South Central, you can pretty much do almost anything.



Do you think your past experience as a surgeon's wife has helped you get accustomed to the life of a military spouse?
Oh, sure. One thing people rarely think of is that a doctor routinely works 60, even 80 hours a week. So a doctor's spouse is left alone most of the time. I became adept at running the household, counseling everyone from kids to other doctors and patients, and being a very pushy advocate when coming up against insurance companies. Plus, all along I was writing and editing.



What do you think is your role as an Army wife just getting into the game?

Keeping it simple. Listen, inspire and encourage. See the best in each person to bring it out.



What interests is it about military families that interests you?
Breaking the mold of how civilians see not only families but also soldiers. I think the strongest most mature women are often very young wives who are raising small children while their husbands are gone for twelve months. And they do this over and over again. There are soldiers who are incredible writers, showing their smarts, wit and humanity. Without a doubt, the military support community is the most giving group I have ever seen. Through my work on the PR team of the war documentary Restrepo, I was able to touch base with over one hundred organizations throughout the nation who give selflessly. In a completely different way, the Army has helped me see a different and most worthwhile world.

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