CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. - Private First Class Veronica Chew was one of a dozen soldiers who received a true hero's welcome Saturday as family members waited with flowers and balloons in hand, for the Buffalo native to arrive at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
"I'm just happy; happy I can be back with my family and out of danger," PFC Chew.
"It's just nice to see how many people really care about us," said Airman First Class David Winchell.
The warm welcome brought Chew and her fellow servicemen and woman to tears - tears of joy to be home for the first time since she was deployed in Afghanistan nine months ago.
"It's just nice to see everyone supporting us," said PFC Chew.
"I'm so proud of her,” said her mother Emilia Chew. “She has grown so much; she's learned so much. She learned how to appreciate so much just seeing, in a third-world-country, those she was fighting for and against."
Chew is following in her mother's footsteps, who’s a retired Army nurse.
The 24-year-old said she made the choice to join the Army in May of 2011 after racking up thousands of dollars in student loans.
Now, she's finishing her degree while serving.
Serving in the Army has kept her busy fighting in three different battles and picking up a couple medals along the way.
"I got the Combat Army Badge. That's when you're engaged by the enemy or you're directly engaging the enemy. And I got my ARCOM (Army Commendation Medal) Medal," said PFC Chew.
And before she heads back to her base in Colorado in mid-Jan., Chew said she's looking forward to having a little fun for the holidays and filling up on some of her favorite Buffalo food.
"Pizza, La Nova's, Philly Cheesesteak, Greek Souvlaki, a Big Mac," she said with a laugh.
But she said being home for the holidays is the biggest treat of all.