Face of Defense: Military Mom Supports Daughter’s Service
By Army Spc. Trisha Betz
1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division
CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait, Oct. 12, 2011 Army Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer McCann, a senior human resources noncommissioned officer, knows all about the military enlistment process.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer McCann, who is deployed to Kuwait, holds an invitation for her twin daughters' high school graduation party. After high school, Maria McCann enlisted in the North Dakota Air National Guard and is finishing up basic training. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Trisha Betz
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Melrose, Minn., native served as a recruiter for eight years and helped hundreds of service members enter the military -- except her own daughter.
“I’ve seen a lot of young men and women that felt like my daughters and sons join the military, but when you actually send your own child off to training, it’s a whole new set of feelings,” said McCann, from the 34th Infantry Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 134th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team here.
McCann recalled when her daughter first expressed interest in military service. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, she said, her daughter expressed concern for Americans fighting the war on terror.
“Mom, if you have to go to war, what are you going to do with the baby?” 8-year-old Maria McCann asked her mom on 9/11, after watching the World Trade Center go down. “When I get bigger, I’m going to help.”
As soon as she turned 18 years old, McCann’s daughter enlisted in the North Dakota Air National Guard as a services apprentice. She plans on becoming an intelligence officer through the Air Force ROTC at North Dakota State University.
Although she enlisted last winter, she was put on a waiting list to go to Air Force technical training at Fort Lee, Va., and didn’t leave for basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, until August. She is scheduled to graduate Oct. 14.
Her mother, who is currently deployed here, was not there to send off her daughter to basic training.
“I’ve taken hundreds of privates to [the military entrance processing station] and dropped them off for that final shipping, and to not be there to see my own daughter and get that phone call that she has arrived is just excruciating -- a better word would be devastating,” she said.
Even though McCann can’t be home every Sunday to receive a phone call from her daughter, she tries to stay connected with her daughter through other means.
“The only communication we’ve had is through letters, which have taken three weeks to get a letter from her at basic training. So as she is just in week seven, I’ve got a letter from week three,” she said. “That’s been a challenge.”
Her daughter doesn’t have Internet access while in basic training, but McCann has found comfort in the Air Force Wing Moms and Air Force basic training Facebook pages.
"All the moms from my daughter’s flight are on Facebook, and when they get their phone calls from their daughters on Sunday, they all post what’s going on, who their ‘wings’ are and what they talk about,” Jennifer said. "They’ve taken me in and shared all the information the girls are saying, so God bless Facebook."
Although it has been hard on McCann to be deployed while her daughter is at basic training, she still wholeheartedly supports her daughter half a world away.
“You should always stand behind your loved ones no matter what your personal opinion is of the military,” McCann said, “because we are all volunteers giving of ourselves, and we should be very thankful for our sons and daughters that are willing to sacrifice so much, to include their own life.”