Patriotic Pride

Miranda Cook

Staff Writer

This month, in honor of Veteran’s History Awareness Month, The L&C Bridge is celebrating our veterans’ service to our country.

All interviews and photos were developed and administered by Miranda Cook.

Bryan Scroggins
Army National Guard
Enlistment: October, 2003

Meet His Family
My wife’s name is Samantha Scroggins and our daughter’s name is Olivia.

Where are you stationed, how long?
I’m currently stationed in Joliet Illinois off base as an Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Soldier.

What military functions do you, your spouse and/or your children attend yearly?
We don’t really attend a whole lot of military functions. The one that we do attend yearly is the 634th Brigade Support Battalion Ball.

Are there any special projects your household has taken on outside of the military?
Not really. I mean we recycle and the funny thing is our waste service doesn’t offer recycling so every week we have to drive all of our recyclable trash to the next town over to drop off. It’s kind of silly because we have to save all this stuff throughout the week and sometimes it can really pile up in the garage. But it puts things in somewhat of a perspective when we see that we are recycling almost twice as much waste then what we put out for the garbage man.

How do you, your spouse and your children spend the holidays? What do you do for Christmas/New Years?
This will be our first Christmas with Olivia but I think we spend the holidays like every other family out there. We travel to see family and do our own small Christmas at home with each other. While we were deployed it was different. Honestly, over there it’s just another day. The Chain of Command will usually try to do something special but I always felt like it was a reminder of what I was missing out on at home so I tried to avoid these events.

And with such a busy schedule, how does your family keep it all together? How do you make time for one another?
This is a tough question. I went on Active Duty for the National Guard in April 2011 and moved three hours north of our home in Sullivan to Joliet as the Company Training Non Commissioned Officer. I made this move alone and Samantha stayed in Sullivan to finish her Associate degree. Before Olivia was born in July 2012, I would get up every Monday at 3:45-4:00 am and make that three hour drive to Joliet and not return home until Friday night. So you always hear the term “Weekend Warrior” but I jokingly coined the phrase “Weekend Husband.” Now I am allowed, for the time being at least, to work Monday and Tuesday from the Sullivan Armory in order to spend more time with my daughter.  We understand that sacrifices have to be made and when we got married, we agreed that the Military would always come first, with our relationship a very close second. With that said though, I really can’t tell you how hard it’s been and I don’t know how we keep it together. It’s even harder now that we have Olivia. I feel like every week I have to let her get to know me, again. But we know this is all temporary and it won’t always be like it is now. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, so I guess that’s what keeps us going.

What do you enjoy doing as an individual, as a husband/wife and as a father/mother?
I don’t really know any more to be honest with you. It’s hard to find time to do the things I enjoy. I feel like I am constantly juggling the military and family life. When I am at home most of that time is spent catching up on house work. I enjoy running but I run because I have to. Before I went to Joliet we went camping and fishing a lot, but the time to do these things really isn’t there anymore. I’m sure that eventually we’ll get back to it, but I think it’s just one of those things we have given up for now.

What can you tell me about MWR’s (morale, welfare, and recreation)?  Do you have a recreational complex?  Somewhere you can go for entertainment?
We don’t have MWR’s in the National Guard. Even us Active Duty AGR Soldiers don’t have an MWR to go to but most of us get to go home every night so it’s really not that big of a deal. There are MWR’s overseas and we did participate in some of the MWR events while we were deployed but it’s not really something for the National Guard, it’s more of an Active Duty thing.

Samantha Scroggins
Army National Guard
Enlistment: May 5, 2004

Meet Her Family
Married to Bryan Scroggins – We have been married for 5 ½ years.  We have one child, Olivia who is three-months-old baby.

Where are you stationed, how long?
My unit is based out of Peoria, IL.  I have been with them since October of 2011.

What military functions do you, your spouse and/or your children attend yearly?
We attend each of our respective unit’s Christmas parties and family picnics.  We plan on bringing our daughter this year.

Are there any special projects your household has taken on outside of the military?
We recycle as much as we can.  We also compost, maintain a small garden, keep chickens, bees and meat rabbits. Next year, I plan on setting up at local farmers markets and selling produce from our garden.

How do you, your spouse and your children spend the holidays? What do you do for Christmas/New Years?
With our units, we go to the Christmas party and have dinner and catch up with our Soldier’s families.  For our family, we usually get together on Christmas Eve and have dinner at our house.  On Christmas, we open presents and make breakfast and if there is snow and the weather is right, we will go sledding.  For New Years, plans change every year based on who is doing what.

And with such a busy schedule, how does your family keep it all together? How do you make time for one another?
We make sure we continue to do the little things for each other.  Making a favorite dinner, bringing coffee to each other in bed, taking the baby and allowing each other time to relax and do something for ourselves. We make time for each other by doing activities that we can do with the baby. Such as going for hikes in the woods, going for a Sunday drive out in the country or staying up late after the baby has gone to bed to cuddle on the couch and watch a movie.

What do you enjoy doing as an individual, as a husband/wife and as a father/mother?
I enjoy reading and being outside.  Any activity outside is fine by me but especially hiking.  As a wife I really enjoy making dinner for my family.  I love making things from scratch like bread or egg noodles.  I also really like putting food by from our garden and being able to use it during the winter.  As a mother I love reading my favorite books to my daughter and taking her for walks.  When she gets older I will really enjoy teaching her how to cook and bake.

What can you tell me about MWR’s (morale, welfare, and recreation)?  Do you have a recreational complex?  Somewhere you can go for entertainment?
On deployment we had MWRs but we didn’t use them very often.  They were usually pretty crowded and sometimes rowdy.  However while in Germany for AT for three weeks, we used the recreation center quite a bit to hang out with other Soldiers from our unit.  Closer to home we usually just go to the movies or do outdoor activities such as fishing, canoeing and hiking.

 

Samanatha and Bryan Scroggins are a married couple currently active in the Army National Guard.

On Our Struggles and Triumphs.
By Bryan Scroggins
Army National Guard, October 2003

I’ve deployed twice to Iraq (2005-2006 and again 2006-2007) and once to Afghanistan (2008-2009). After returning home from Iraq and Kuwait in February 2006, I had some real issues dealing with adjusting to a regular life. I don’t really know why, but I think some of it was because I didn’t have anyone to share my experience with. When we got home, everyone went back to their families and some of them I have never seen since we got off the bus at Jefferson Barracks. When Frank told me he was getting deployed later in 2006, I jumped on the opportunity to go again. I’ve told people that it was because I wanted to go with my older brother, but I think the reality is I wanted to escape the life I had here at home and be a part of something “important” again. Working at Applebee’s just wasn’t filling the void. So we left with A Co 634th BSB in July 2006 for Fort Dix NJ for mobilization training and this is where I met Samantha.

Samantha and I got married while home on leave in January 2007. I think we had known each other for six months when we got married, and she was the one who proposed. We finished our leave and went back to Iraq to finish our tour conducing Detainee Operations at Camp Cropper in Baghdad Iraq. When we finally got home in September 2007, we had to adjust to a civilian life, but also married life. Honestly it wasn’t that hard the second or third time around. Where I had no one to talk to after my first deployment, I now had Samantha and Frank after the second and third deployment. It really made a difference to have someone you shared all of these experiences with right there all the time.

The hardest part was when we got home we knew that we wouldn’t see all the people we had served with again. We all came from different units throughout the state of Illinois and that’s where everyone ended up going back to. So it was great coming home, but also a sad and somber event for us. We’re actually planning an OIF 2006-2007 reunion to try to get everyone that was on that deployment back together.

We also had some hard times in Afghanistan. I worked at our Company Command Post as an Operations NCO / Unit Administrator and Samantha worked at our maintenance shop and was a member of the recovery team. I didn’t go outside the wire all that much, just a couple of humanitarian missions and a few trips to drop Soldiers and supplies off and other camps. Part of my job though was to alert the recovery team if they had a mission and there were times I really hated it because I knew we were sending Samantha out as a gunner and anything could happen. There was one time she didn’t come back until the next day while recovering a damaged truck belonging to an Infantry unit that was currently in contact. They ended up having to stay the night at an Afghan Army Out Post. Well I didn’t know what was going on so all I could do was wait and see what happened. To me, not knowing was the worst part of every time she went out. She experienced that with me when I got stuck at BAF because a suicide bomber detonated at the gate as we were leaving. People who are here at home while their loved ones are deployed don’t experience knowing what their loved one is doing every day. And I don’t know who has it worse, but I think I would rather have been here in the dark on certain aspects of our deployment rather than being there and living it every day.

I think that’s about all I have for you. Really I could write a book about everything we’ve done and been through together but I hope this little bit helps. Our life together really has been an adventure and I’m sure that there are many more to come but we’ll meet them head on as we’ve always done and I’m glad that I have Sam to share it with.

Melony Peterson
Wife of a United States Marine Corps
Enlistment: September 1998

Meet Her Family
In my family there is my husband Kevin, me of course Melony, my son Tyler is eight and my  daughter Teagan will be four next month.

Where are you stationed, how long?
We are currently stationed in Arizona. This is our second time here! We were stationed here the first time for six years and moved to Georgia for four years and have been back in Arizona for three years now. We have lived on-base twice, but are currently living off-base in town! We have gone through five deployments/separations for work, but have survived them all stronger and better than ever.

What military functions do you, your spouse and/or your children attend yearly?
There are several military functions each year! We attend as much as we can, but with a busy schedule, we don’t always make it to everything. The one thing that is a constant for us is the Marine Corps Ball! It is to celebrate the birthday of The Marine Corps every year. It is really nice to see all the men and women in the service dress up in their dress blues and come together for a very awesome ceremony to celebrate all that they stand for. They do MANY family functions on-base each year for the families, especially for the holidays. They have Easter egg hunts, and they even bring in snow for us here in the desert to celebrate Christmas! That’s pretty awesome if you ask me, considering the heat we face most of the year!! There are a ton of things they do each year, too many to list.

Are there any special projects your household has taken on outside of the military?
Not really any special projects that we are personally involved with outside of the military other than the things my son does in boy scouts for his community service badges! We would like to get involved with helping out a shelter this year in serving homeless for Thanksgiving since our children are now old enough to help with that. We try to recycle as much as we can but aren’t the best at staying on top of it.

How do you, your spouse and your children spend the holidays? What do you do for Christmas/New Years?
Holidays vary for us depending on if he [my husband] is home or not! Sometimes we will stay home and have family come in for the holidays and others we will travel to see family for the holidays. Like this year we will be hosting Thanksgiving at our home for my family and Christmas we will be traveling to celebrate with his family. We trade-off between families so we get to make those memories with everyone we can as much as possible. Like I said it always just depends if he is home or not. Unfortunately there are some holidays we have to spend apart.

And with such a busy schedule, how does your family keep it all together? How do you make time for one another?
Hmm… How DO we keep it all together? I don’t really know! I think the way we make it work so good for us is because we work together as a team. When he can’t be around, I take care of the things he would normally, and vice versa. We have never been the type to just sit around waiting on things to happen. We stay very active in making sure that everything gets taken care of as needed. I’m sure it probably helps also that I have a bit of OCD so I keep us all running on a pretty strict schedule from day to day just to make sure everything gets taken care of. We do just about everything together as a family. Being in the military, you don’t have your family members around, so you really have to rely on each other for everything. We go camping together, which really brings a close bond together as a family unit. We workout together, sports, games, just as many things as we possibly can to always make sure that we are stronger and happier than ever!

What do you enjoy doing as an individual, as a husband/wife and as a father/mother?
I really enjoy photography, so going out and taking pictures is my passion! Together my husband and I love to go for rides on the motorcycle, when we can, and we enjoy our workouts together. As a mother, I just love everyday with my kids, I home school, so I am enjoying getting to watch them learn and grow so much every day. We love swimming and getting outdoors as much as possible.

What can you tell me about MWR’s (morale, welfare, and recreation)?  Do you have a recreational complex?  Somewhere you can go for entertainment?
MWR is a place for our family to go for sports. Thankfully through the MWR, my son has been able to play every sport for very cheap. There is a gym on base and a base swimming pool! Everything you need recreational is offered on base. My family and I go to the YMCA because it is where we can all go together as a family to work out and have childcare all in one place.

As far as entertainment there isn’t a whole lot here for us because it is such a small base, but the base does offer family movie nights in the park and at the pool. They offer child care for date nights once a month. Just little things here and there are offered to our families making life a little easier.

Matt Fitzgerald
Army: JUN 1986-1990, Psychiatric Specialist/NCO
Air Force Reserves: AUG 1990-MAY 1999, Aeromedevac Tech/Instructor
Army: DEC 2002-Present, Judge Advocate (Attorney)

Meet His Family
Married to Sharna Stadelman Fitzgerald for 13 ½ years. Two sons, Isaac Fitzgerald, age 10 and Solomon Fitzgerald, age 8.

Where are you stationed, how long?
I am currently assigned to the Office of the Judge Advocate General working in Personnel, Plans and Training. We are located at the Pentagon, Washington DC. I am 18 months in to a 24-month-tour and will leave here next summer. We currently reside off-base in Manassas Park, VA.  I commute in via the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) because the traffic congestion makes the commute unpleasant and long.

What military functions do you, your spouse and/or your children attend yearly?
My wife and I try to attend our formal ball held every year. My wife will also attend some of the coffees and similar wives’ events.  There are various promotion and retirement ceremonies as well.

Are there any special projects your household has taken on outside of the military?
We are involved with Organization for Autism Research because we raise an autistic son. We do volunteer work for them and also assist with fundraising. We recently began assisting with Cub Scouts now that are youngest son has joined.

How do you, your spouse and your children spend the holidays? What do you do for Christmas/New Years?
The beauty of the military moving us to a new location is that we have the opportunity to spend our time off, especially the holidays, celebrating in a new city with new opportunities.  The kids have had the pleasure of spending the holidays in Germany, Texas, Virginia and Washington DC. It’s been a real treat.

And with such a busy schedule, how does your family keep it all together? How do you make time for one another?
We tend to find activities that the whole family can do together. We enjoy visiting National/State Parks, Amusement/Water Parks, etc. This year we took the bold step of getting rid of cable television. We spend family-viewing-time watching movies on Netflix or via DVD. We’ve also started Cub Scouts this year as well as being members of an indoor rock climbing gym close to home. Climbing requires one of us to belay while the other climbs, so we are in constant communication with each other and get to share in each other’s successes or challenges. We have also chosen to rent homes with small yards so that we aren’t spending any available free time doing home improvement or yard work.  My kids are 10 and 8, so I only have about 400-500 weekends left with them before they turn 18. With every single move, I start creating a list of “Must Sees” and “Should Sees.”  We refer to it often so that we don’t leave a place having missed out on any of the things we ought to see.

What do you enjoy doing as an individual, as a husband/wife and as a father/mother?
I am an avid runner. We travel to races, which are always exciting because the family gets to explore new cities and attractions while I run, and then we all get together afterwards to continue our exploration. We are wrapping-up our first time living in the East Coast and we have visited dozens of cities within a driving distance of our home.  My youngest is an avid rock climber, so we have had the opportunities to climb the summit of Seneca Rocks in West Virginia and are hoping to get a few more in around here before we leave.

What can you tell me about MWR’s (morale, welfare, and recreation)?  Do you have a recreational complex?  Somewhere you can go for entertainment?
We have often used MWR services. They are able to broker discounted tickets to local events and places like Disney World for us. We have also taken advantage of the current wave of support for the military by getting free of discounted admissions to national parks, museums, sporting and cultural events and local attractions. When we have been at more remote military assignments in the past, we have taken advantage of the MWR facilities on the installations.  At remote assignments, those things become more important because of the lack of opportunities in the surrounding small communities.

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