As a marathon runner sets their pace and focus on the journey ahead, Woman Marine Dinah McDonald uses such characteristics as mental strength, fortitude, speed, physical strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and coordination to pace herself in the greatest race of her life; being a military mom. As a long-distance runner, McDonald is tenacious, those closest to her would say that she is “stubborn”.  However, her faith and trust in God have enabled her to pace herself in the race of life. McDonald is well trained and has been given the tools to succeed in life. Even when there is no one around to encourage her in times when the finish line seems so far away. McDonald focuses on the task ahead and finds the strength deep within herself to push through to the finish line as a victorious winner that has conquered life.

Woman Marine Dinah McDonald enlisted into the Defence Force as a member of New Entry 55/ Woman Entry 24. She has served three (3) years of service and has spent the greater portion of her career in the Military Police and Force Protection unit, specifically at the Detention Center. It was in this department that she completed courses such as Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) in which she was awarded the grey belt. She has also completed a five (5) month Close Quarter Combat Certification course. It was during this time, that McDonald tested her resilience as a military mom.

McDonald recalls at the end of each workday, her rigorous routine of securing her children, helping with home, preparing dinner, and settling the children into bed.  Most nights, she would go to bed at midnight to rise early and prepare the children for school and make her trot back to work at 7:30. Her most difficult period was when the time changed and the mornings were dark.

“As a mother, I know I could not leave my children in the schoolyard in the dark. I didn’t want to quit the course, I had invested too much time in it.   At times when I had no one to drop my children off, I would call my instructor and make them aware of my situation that I would be late on certain days. In both courses, I was the sole female.” She says.

In the latter part of her career, she was drafted to the Administration Department, subsection Human Resource where she presently serves as a data entry clerk. McDonald has been married for one (1) year to Marine Mechanic Jerome McDonald. McDonald has two children, Dayshon Moss eleven (11) years old, and Sarai Moss five (5) years old. She is expecting her third child this year. 

Focused, determined, a strong-minded person are some of the words that McDonald used to describe herself. But, what most people don’t know about her is that she is a very considerate person. “Often, I would consider how my actions affect others around me. I think about the things that I may say before blurting them out, I think about how my words may affect others. Sometimes this gifting of thinking of others more than myself may not be easy at times, but God gives me my fair share of grace to handle it. Occasionally, I may put myself on the back burner knowing my potential to help others come up. Most people don’t know that side of me, because individuals often judge others from their demeanor rather than from their heart. I am a straightforward person, my facial appearance may be motionless at times, but my intentions and heart are pure. My peers and superiors would describe me as a leader, a take-charge person, a militant individual, who is realistic and doesn’t sugarcoat things.”

When asked who she holds as a role model, McDonald replied, “My role model would be my mom Pastor Jennifer Forbes. I choose her because of her strength as a person, her unselfish love, dedicated attitude, level of commitment, and sacrifice she has made for her children.  My mom taught me how to sacrifice, to ensure that my children have what they need. I often draw from my mother’s strength and her independence as a person. Most of all, I’ve learned that in life one will experience struggles, but my mom taught me how to overcome the struggles. 

When asked her reasons for joining the Defence Force McDonald said, “Once again, it was my curious nature that had drawn me to enlist in the Defence Force. Being a physical person, I was attracted to the physical aspect of the force. In addition, I was a part of the RBDF Rangers Program. I was triggered by the marines and how the program affected some of the children who were unruly at the time. I thought, I too want to make a difference in people’s lives.”

“Serving in the Force has been a rewarding experience. The highlight of my career thus far would have been deployed to Abaco, Post Hurricane Dorian, and working during the first initial stage of the Covid-19 Pandemic.  Having spent no significant time away from home prior to new entry training, the Abaco Deployment had stretched me as an individual and most of all as a mom and wife. I had to miss out on my children’s education now enrolled in virtual learning rather than face-to-face instruction because of the pandemic. I can recall the time when my youngest daughter celebrated her fifth birthday, my Mom stepped in to make the day special while I watched via WhatsApp. Serving in Abaco has been a memorable accomplishment because I’ve learned from my mother how to adapt and push through difficult situations. My mom is my anchor! She has given me a great legacy to carry on.

McDonald has found the secret to work-life balance. She states that when she is to work she is 100 percent present and whilst at home, she is focused on her family. “I have two children presently being schooled in a virtual environment. It is very difficult for a five (5) year old child who doesn’t want to stay still to focus on a computer screen.  I have to keep my mind focused. I have to be stern, but not too stern that the child shut down mentally. I balance this by keeping my mental focus. In addition to being pregnant and a wife, I have to also keep the romance alive.  Being pregnant my hormones are raging, I must keep a brave face for my children and at the same time not try to give my husband too much attitude. It’s a lot! However, I find my solace through music and mediation. It is important as a mother to find quiet time to rejuvenate because as mothers our role is constantly changing. It’s easy to lose oneself in serving others. ”

“To those desiring to enlist in the Force, it is important to get one’s mental state in order first. The environment is constantly changing and there may be times when one may be called upon at a moment’s notice to be deployed or to sail which can be challenging for most individuals. Persons that may be unstable may crash under the pressure of the job. Therefore, it’s important to investigate what the job is all about and what will be required of you as an employee.”

This is the advice that McDonald gives to mothers in the Defence Force and those desiring to enlist: “First and foremost, an individual must ensure that she has a support system that she can depend on because the time will come when you will have to be at work and you will need someone to take care of your children in your absence. You don’t want to be absent too much or take too much time off. Naturally, your motherly instinct will kick in. Most mothers will never neglect their children or child, that’s just the reality of life. Therefore, it is important to have the right support system in place. Raising children takes a collective effort, each member of your support group has a contribution and life experience that can help to mold your children into positive members of society.”    For this reason, McDonald says to the mothers in the Defence Force and mothers around the world that you have the power to overcome any struggle. You are an overcomer! This Mother’s Day let’s be strong for our children, husband, and most of all let us be strong for ourselves. “My mom was strong for her children. As a mother, I intend to create an environment in which my family can thrive. This Mother’s Day is continuing the tradition of passing down to my daughters a strong heritage as a mother. As my mother has taught me to trust in God, I am instilling that virtue into my family.  I would like to say to my mother thank you for being the loving and consistent mother who has never bent wavered, or bowed in her character as a Christian. You are my anchor that I can always run to when life begins to weigh one down. To my children, I will always love you and provide for your needs while trying to give you your wants as well. I will continue to nurture you the best way I know how with God’s help.”

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