As a nurse, Hollyanne Milley is used to saving lives in a hospital — not at Arlington National Cemetery.
But that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday, when Milley, the wife of the United States’ top military officer, saved a veteran bystander who collapsed during the Veterans Day ceremony, NBC News reported.
“We were all in the right place at the right time,” she told the outlet.
Milley is married to Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was on hand for the annual ceremony in Virginia.
Just before the arrival of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Milley said she heard a commotion, and — considering she’s been a nurse for 33 years — rushed over as her instincts kicked in.
“When I first got there, he was breathing in a very erratic way that he wasn’t really taking air into his lungs as he should have been,” she told NBC News. “And then he stopped breathing.”
The man did not have a pulse, so Milley rolled up her sleeves and did two cycles of CPR, which eventually paid off as the man’s pulse returned and he began to speak and move.
“I put him in a side recovery position and just talked to him and told him what was going on and encouraged him to take deep breaths,” she told the outlet.
NBC News reported that the man was rushed to the hospital by Fort Myer Emergency Medical Services, and has since been discharged.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the man is in his 60s.
His identity has not been released, though Milley said she spoke with him on Thursday and he is doing well. She added that he was “grateful” he’d be able to attend the ceremony again next year in order to honor his fellow veterans.
She also credited a physician from the VA and the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman with helping her save the man.
“Hollyanne’s actions were representative of the hero medical professionals who are always there when we need them,” Gen. Milley, who did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, said in a statement to NBC News. “She represents the strength and service of our military families.”
For Hollyanne, saving lives seems to be second nature; several years ago, she performed CPR on someone while attending the Army Ball, ball gown and all, she said.
“A lot of the way you respond is just muscle memory for medical professionals and you just take about a second to take everything in and then somebody’s life is depending on the actions of others,” she told NBC News. “It was really an honor to help a veteran on Veterans Day.”
Gen. Milley became chairman in October 2019, and before that, served as the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. He and Hollyanne have been married for more than 34 years, and have two children.
She currently works at a large medical practice in northern Virginia, the WSJ reported.
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