Deborah Kissinger during her time as a Honolulu Police Department officer.
A life of service
A former HPD officer pursues her dream to be a doctor
Honolulu Police officer Deborah Kissinger flipped her motorcycle five years ago chasing a motorist who was speeding on the H-2.
The impact shattered her knee and ended her police career. It was a dream job that did not feel like work at all.
"I liked getting paid to ride a Harley. What more could you ask for?" Kissinger said.
The injury was devastating, physically and emotionally. But Kissinger was not one to pout and vegetate on a couch. She was determined to do something with her life.
Her inspiration came from an unlikely place: the ongoing wars, and the veterans who have been physically and mentally damaged by them.
Kissinger, who still cannot run and often has pain in her knee when walking, went on to complete a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Hawaii and just graduated with a degree in osteopathic medicine at Phoenix's Midwestern University last month.
Now, the former officer is embarking on a four-year residency in psychiatry in Loma Linda, Calif., but her dream is to return to Hawaii to work at the Spark M. Matsunaga Veterans Medical Center.
"Now, I'm 300 miles west of Phoenix and one step closer to coming home," she said.
That would be Hawaii, a place she never wanted to leave.
"People shouldn't lose joy in their own life just because of what they've experienced in the past," said Kissinger, adding, "I was so determined not to just sit on the pity pot, but to use whatever means necessary to accomplish my goal."
Kissinger as a medical school graduate.
While she misses being a cop, she is ready for a new challenge.
"I'm so stoked. I've always wanted to be a psychiatrist. They (the veterans) have seen a lot of harrowing stuff, and I want to help them deal with that," she said.
Kissinger moved to Hawaii from Arizona in 1985 and began her career with the HPD two years later. She worked as a 911 operator, Narcotic/Vice Division investigator and Waikiki patrol officer before joining the solo bike motorcycle detail.
Today, she works on average of 12 to 18 hours per day, but the long hours are rewarding because she is helping military veterans deal with their addictions and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Kissinger has formed special bonds with some of her patients at the Loma Linda Veterans Medical Center, and she has only been there for a couple of weeks.
"They are an important group to help. They gave us so much (in service) that to give them good care makes me feel good," said Kissinger.
Kissinger has kept closed ties to Hawaii. She has even kept her 808 cell number and frequently visits her many friends on the islands.
And she has not been forgotten, more so at her former job.
Brandon Stone, a Honolulu Police Department management analyst, said he looks forward to her return.
"She's an interesting blend of physical energy and intellectual curiosity for the world that always went beyond police work," Stone said.
"She will definitely make a positive impact on anyone she encounters," said Stone, who considers himself a close friend and was an avid hiking partner.