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Face of Defense: Sergeant Donates Hair to Help Children

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Law
Special to American Forces Press Service

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan, April 9, 2008 – An Air Force noncommissioned officer who had long hair all of her life decided during her deployment here to let her hair brighten some lives.

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Air Force Staff Sgt. Jenet Akerson, 451st Expeditionary Communications Flight Network Control Center technician at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, looks at her new hair style March 31, 2008. Akerson donated 13 inches of her hair to “Locks of Love,” a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children with long-term medical hair loss. She is deployed from the 435th Communications Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester
  

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Staff Sgt. Jenet Akerson, a 451st Expeditionary Communications Flight Network Control Center technician, donated 13 inches of her hair to “Locks of Love,” a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children with long-term medical hair loss.

“I never had short hair,” she said. “I was raised in Hawaii; my mom has long hair, so it’s part of my heritage.”

Akerson said the decision was difficult, but that it was influenced by her admiration for her mother-in-law’s experience with alopecia, a condition of patchy hair loss, most noticeably on the scalp.

“I never would have even thought to do something like that had it not been for her being an influence in my life,” Akerson said. “She has a heart of gold and is the strongest woman I know, so really it was a dedication to her.”

She explained she wanted to be with her mother-in-law when she cut her hair, but decided to cut it while deployed because she wanted to donate healthy hair, and the water here was damaging hers.

Although she was unable to be with her mother-in-law at the time, her husband was deployed with her and cut her hair.

“It meant a lot to be a part of it and to actually be the one to cut her hair,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremy Akerson, a 451th Expeditionary Communications Flight planner.

His wife said it’s taking a while to learn how to work with short hair, but that it’s something she will get used to.

“We’ve decided that, as long as my hair grows healthy, as soon as it gets up to a decent length, we’re going to cut it off every year,” she said. “I don’t color my hair, so I guess they will have some white streaks in it when I get older.”

Her husband explained it was coincidence and luck they were both deployed at the same time to the same location, especially since they had not been stationed together since December 2006. The couple met in May 2005 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where they were stationed together. They were married in September 2007, nine months after he was reassigned to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

The couple hopes to be reunited on a joint assignment in March 2009 after Jenet Akerson meets the time-on-station requirement for reassignment.

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Law serves with 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Staff Sgt. Jenet Akerson, 451st Expeditionary Communications Flight Network Control Center technician at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, holds 13 inches of her hair she recently cut off to donate to “Locks of Love,” a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children with long-term medical hair loss. Akerson is deployed from the 435th Communications Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremy Akerson   
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