SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — As a fourth generation military member, Tonja Winekauf said family influence was only part of the reason she joined the military in 1996.

Winekauf- “I have to give credit to my sister-in-law who was in ROTC in college and I had discussed joining the military with her and she convinced me to do so, but the overwhelming reason why was because I wanted to help others,” said Winekauf.

After completing a Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree from Louisiana, Winekauf joined the Army Reserves. As a Critical Care Nurse, she helped American soldiers in Germany prepare for battle.

“Some of the things I saw in Germany were those soldiers that were from outline areas that were preparing to deploy and so they would be having surgeries to make sure they were fit and ready for combat,” said Winekauf.

She still serves in the military as a Lieutenant Colonel with the 185th Air Refueling Wing. For the last 3 years, she has worked at MercyOne in Sioux City providing family practice medical care.

“I love healthcare. I thrive for it. I enjoy meeting families, their family members. That’s part of the reason why I stay in family practice because you get to know the individual patient, but you also get to know the family members as well,” said Winekauf.

Her family is following in her footsteps. She has two children who are serving in the military.