Veterans guide new military dad

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 9:45 AM EST
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Greenacres Fire Rescue Chief Brian Fuller’s thoughts are with his duties at headquarters on Jog Road, but his thoughts are also more than 1,000 miles away.

His son, Joshua Fuller, is in an Air Force boot camp right now in San Antonio, Texas.

Brian Fuller read a recent letter aloud to WFLX anchor Mike Trim.

"The food is OK and the sergeants are pretty cool, actually. I just want to say thank you for pushing me to be the very best," Fuller said, reading the letter.

It's emotional for Fuller, who said he can tell the tone of the letter lets him know Joshua is safe and sound.

"It's just that he's OK. I can tell," Fuller said.

At Greenacres Fire Rescue headquarters, Fuller has a support system from fellow fighters who are also military veterans.

Fuller didn't serve in the military, but Navy veteran and Battalion Chief Steve Papia did.

"We've asked him how he's doing and everything. Of course, he's a dad, just like I'm a dad, and I would be nervous," Papia said.

Papia gave Fuller advice early on.

"When he is in boot camp, make sure that you write letters to him every day, your friends write letters to him every day," Papia said. "Because when you got mail call, it was always a great thing."

Pointers from those who have been there and done that help.

"Having them be able to tell me exactly how it was and, you know, a few of them mentioned to me how important it is to write letters to them and how much it feels," Fuller said.

Fuller raised Joshua around public service, serving nearly three decades as a firefighter in Palm Beach County with Palm Beach and Greenacres.

"I've always told him, you know, my job is to make sure he turns out better than me," Fuller said. "And I think he has. I know he has."

When it came down to boot camp business advice, Air Force and Coast Guard veteran and rookie firefighter Joseph Zappula let Joshua know the real deal.

"I told him to maybe start running, be ready to get hollered at a little bit and just be ready for the unexpected," Zappula said.

Until Joshua graduates boot camp, it's double duty for dad — chief and patiently waiting parent.

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