Military Guests to Join the First Lady for State of the Union

First Lady Michelle Obama

 

An Army sergeant, an astronaut and retired Navy captain, the commander of the nation’s special operations forces, and a colonel whose same-sex partner helped her make history are the invited guests of First Lady Michelle Obama for Tuesday night’s State of the Union address by Pres. Barack Obama.

 

  • Army Sgt. Ashleigh Berg is from Malibu, Calif., and joined the Army in July 2004. She has been stationed in South Korea and Germany, and has served two tours in Iraq. Her husband, Army Sgt. Matthew Berg, is deployed to Afghanistan on his third combat tour.
  • Retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly is an astronaut, best-selling author, and an experienced naval aviator who flew combat missions during the Gulf War. He became the center of international attention after the January 2011 assassination attempt on his wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.
  • Navy Adm. William McRaven commands U.S. Special Operations Command. McRaven has commanded at every level within the special operations community, including assignments as deputy commanding general for operations at JSOC, commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, commander of SEAL Team 3, task group commander in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, task unit commander during operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, squadron commander at Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and SEAL platoon commander at Underwater Demolition Team 21/SEAL Team 4.
  • Air Force Col. Ginger Wallace is an Air Force intelligence officer who has led airlift and intelligence operations during operations Southern Watch, Provide Relief, Uphold Democracy, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. She lives in McLean, Va., with her partner of more than a decade, Kathy Knopf.

You can read more about each military guest HERE.

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The Citadel Ya-Yas become Military Moms

The Citadel Ya-Yas in March of 2010. Photo by Stanley Leary.

A year ago Monday, I wrote about the friends I made through the Citadel Family Association, The Citadel Ya Yas. We are a geographically diverse group of moms who met through our volunteer work and our mutual interest in supporting our children while they attended The Citadel. This group of friends continues to be a strong source of friendship, support and comfort. Between us we have children in the private sector, graduate school, and a few branches of the military. We are in touch through Facebook, email, and phone calls when really important events pop up.

The summer my son attended Leader Development & Assessment Course (LDAC), I found a another group of friends. Most of us have never met, or even spoken on the phone.  We are family members of the cadets who went through LDAC the summer of 2010. We met via the LDAC 2010 Facebook group.  We formed our own Facebook group and now support each other as our children become officers and go through the various stages of training and active duty.

ABOLC graduation. Dorie Griggs, 2LT Nelson Lalli, Chelle Leary, Taylor Lalli. Photo by Stanley Leary.

LDAC also maintains an excellent blog, Operation Warrior Forge, where they post photos and stories about the cadets at LDAC. I was able to watch the graduation in real-time via their live stream, WarriorForgeLive. The LDAC 2012 group should be up later this spring.

I am now on the steep learning curve now being the mom of a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. I’ve learned about Fort Benning, the Armor Basic Officer Leader Course (ABOLC), the Armor Branch traditions, Airborne School, Ranger school, Reconnaissance Surveillance Leader Course (RSLC), and am now learning about Fort Stewart and the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment. Each one of these groups has a Facebook page or group as well. I wrote blog entries about our experience at the Armor BOLC graduation and included links to the sites where I learned about their traditions. I also wrote about the Airborne School first jump and graduation.

Airborne School graduation, November 2011. Photo by Stanley Leary.

When my son went to Airborne school, I corresponded with other family members through the  US Army Airborne School, Fort Benning Facebook group. Some of us met at the Fryar Drop Zone or at graduation. We shared photos from the jumps we attended and even checked on each others’ soldiers. A few of us are now Facebook friends. The experience last fall helped me see the bond the families of active duty military members share.

I am finding that as the mother of a single soldier some information is harder to track down. The Family Readiness Groups seem to be geared more toward the married soldiers who have spouses with them on base to attend meetings and events. At least, this is my experience with a soldier who is not deployed. I was visiting the Fort Stewart site recently and saw a post about their redesign. I plan on sending in a few suggestions.

One of the stated goals of their new design from the feedback page: “We are aiming to be a model example for all other military websites to be based upon.” If you are the family member of a single soldier and have ideas to share, scroll to the bottom of this page and send in your suggestion.

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