Friday, September 21, 2007

It's in my blood...

It was 29 years ago that this, then 21 year-old, walked through the doors of 201 Lafayette Avenue in Suffern, NY, the Eastern Territory's School for Officer Training. I was nervous, excited and convinced that I was stepping into my "forever" future. I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed my two years of training. Looking back, I was naive and a mere babe in my faith and holiness experience, nonetheless I was eager to get on with it.

Getting on with “it” consisted of being moved, or as we say in the Army, given marching orders 11 times in 19 years. As a single officer this was not uncommon - actually more like the norm. All was not doom and gloom. I enjoyed officership. For eleven years I had the privilege of playing in the New York Staff Band - actually, I was one of the first of 2 women to be appointed to the band. That was a blast! I made playing in the band part of my ministry. But the moving continued and I became more and more restless every June wondering if my time was up again. (Did I mention, I am an officer’s kid so the moving just kept going and going?)

In spite of the moves, I made the best of my appointments. My reviews were always positive, receiving high marks and, more times than not, the interview concluded with this promise from Army leadership (usually from THQ), “we are grooming you to be one of the Army’s future leaders.” The first time I heard it I was pretty pleased and proud of myself as I never expected to hear that. After all, single women leaders were few and far between. I thought, “WOW, me a DC?!” I worked hard, did all the right things, I was known on our staff as "the doer". After being told the same thing for several years with nothing to show for it I began to think, “well, they must tell everyone that they are being groomed for leadership.” So, I was content to sit back and forget about my chances of leadership in this married man’s Army. I felt then, as I do now, that single officer leadership was given out in tokenism portions. The Army’s mission in ministry is based solely around a pair of officers with a few single officers thrown in to break up the monotony. (But, that is fodder for another epistle)

So, after 19 years of officership I was faced with wanting to take root some place. I had become very comfortable in the Hartford, CT area and enjoyed attending the Manchester Citadel Corps. So, I took literally the verse ,’being firmly planted’ to heart - spiritually and physically. I chose to make Manchester, CT my permanent home. At that time, I was serving with a Divisional Commander who understood my situation. I did not want to leave the Army, I loved the Army, I loved my work however, I needed to take root and call this place my home and he knew it. He (my DC) managed to plead my case with Territorial Headquarters and I was able to make the transition from officer to employee with ease. This was something that was unheard of in years past. The regulation stated that an officer could not work for the Army for at least 1 year after leaving officership. As an officer I was the Director of Planned Giving and retained the position as an employee. Odd as it was, I went home from work on a Friday afternoon in uniform and returned to work on Monday in civilian clothes.

The entire process took one year, so in 2000 when I would have been promoted to the rank of Major I left officership (I always said there was only one Major Garell and that was my dad!) But I have not left the Army. Sadly, due to some unfortunate events I am no longer employed by the Army - but it was a great 25 years!

I still attend the Manchester Citadel Corps in CT and play in the band and sing in the songsters! It’s in my blood! Officership may not have been my "forever" future but, the Army is!!

Lauren (Lorry) Garell
Manchester Citadel Corps
Connecticut, USA (East)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Shepherd; the verb

I have been out of the Army family for 22 years and no one really knows what happened to my husband and me. It was very difficult to experience what my girls and I did, going through it without any support. It was as though, once we resigned, that we no longer existed.

I have not lost my faith in God and how I feel about serving in the Army, I just don't understand when things happen to you and your family, why we, as Shepherds who ministered to those in our flock, could not expect and receive the same from our Leaders. After all, they were the very same people who taught us to care and sent us out to love in Jesus’ name.

I have had 22 years to reflect back on my life with and in The SA and I loved what I did in the time I served. And I reflect often on what that experience did in forming me as a person.

I harbor no ill will towards anyone, I have learned to move on and continue to faithfully serve God.

My life has changed a lot in the past 22 years however, I have never forgotten Whom and why I serve. I have had all this bottled up for all these years and I have never shared any of it until now. Incidentally, I have only mentioned the tip of the iceberg. It would have been good to talk through the many issues 22 years ago, at the time when the turmoil was its worst, and to do so with someone who had been through some of what I and my family suffered.

I’m grateful I found this forum. God sent me to it at the very time I was reflecting on my life as an officer, a very special period in my life. I hope and pray that the sharing of my experience is helpful to others. We do share something very special don't we?


USA Central Territory
(name on file with FSAOF)