Editor's note: To commemorate Veterans Day at Premera Blue Cross, we profiled several of the 150 veterans who work within our ranks throughout the month. Premera veterans shared their stories with us, in their own words. Here is Connie Chapman’s story from our Voices of Veterans series on Facebook.
I joined the armed forces because I really wanted to go to college and it seemed like a great way to do that. My grandfather was in the Army Air Corps, my father was Air Force Reserves and my brother was career Air Force.
I was commissioned in September 2003. My brigade was activated for deployment to Iraq two weeks later. On a Friday in the middle of October, I was notified to report to Fort Lee, Va. the following Sunday to attend Officer Basic Course. In late February
2004, my unit requested I leave the course three weeks early to join the deployment. On April 1, I entered Iraq from Kuwait. In those six months, my life changed in ways I could have never imagined.
Connie met her now-husband (pictured left) while serving in the military.
They are pictured here on a Refuel on the Move mission at the Yakima Training Center in June 2007.
Serving as a company commander in the Army National Guard was the best job I ever had. I was only a first lieutenant, and company command is a captain’s position. I was the first woman to lead a support company attached to a combat unit. This was a new
approach for supporting combat arms units and allowed the integration of women into those units. This change led the way for women to serve in combat units.
I was the only woman officer and one of six women in my company supporting a unit of 400 men. It was a new experience for all of us. The best part was that I had so many new and fun opportunities to accompany my soldiers during their missions.
I helped recover a track vehicle from a 30-foot deep ravine; processed ammunition for distribution and turn-in; prepared meals with the cooks during field exercises; and joined a fueling operation called Refuel on the Move, where the combat vehicles meet
the fuel truck on a road, and are refueled to continue their mission. We refueled seven vehicles in less than 10 minutes! My goal as the commander was to establish standards of practice that were reinforced throughout my leadership team.
I developed my values, leadership skills, and work ethic as a result of those experiences. I am part of the 0.4 percent of the population that was willing to sacrifice for the benefit of the greater good. As a result of my deployment to Iraq in 2004-2005, my two sons
developed an interest in world events far greater than their teenage peers.
Serving our country is a sacrifice, but it’s also an opportunity to challenge yourself physically, emotionally and intellectually in ways not possible in the civilian world. People who serve do so for a variety of reasons: to pay for college, patriotism, to escape poverty, and many more. But the common thread that holds us all together is knowing that our country depends on us doing our very best in the very worst circumstances.
There are parts of the military I miss: the discipline, camaraderie, the challenges and unique opportunities. But there are also things I don’t miss, like 6 a.m. formations and not showering for three days in 100 degree temperatures. Would I do it
again? In a heartbeat.
Connie served in the Army on active duty for five years and discharged as a sergeant. She took a break then joined the National Guard and retired as a captain in the Washington Army National Guard having served a total of 18 years. Connie is now a case manager with Healthcare Services at Premera and telecommutes from home.