The San Francisco Chronicle reports today that two beautiful, patriotic women have signed up to serve the United States in the Army. Mom and daughter will make quite a team. I say “Hoo-ah” to the ladies and kudos to the Chronicle for writing about these two heroes!
Lisa Altoon is 39 and about to embark on a whole new chapter in her life.
The postal carrier from Fremont has joined the Army and is scheduled to ship out to Fort Jackson, S.C., for basic training today.
That she will be an Army private at such an age is rare enough. What makes her story more interesting is that she will be followed to basic training and to her military job training afterward by her daughter - a 17-year-old cheerleader.
It was the teen’s idea to join first.
Megan Schlotthauer, a senior at American High School in Fremont, began considering the military as an option when she realized she didn’t have the best grades and didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do after graduation.
“I was looking at the community colleges, and I thought I would go there,” she said. “Then I was talking to some people I know who are in the Navy Reserve, and some friends who have been in the military, and I thought that’s what I wanted to do.”
Although Altoon was initially cool to the idea of her daughter joining the military, she said she is now glad they will be in the Army together.
“I’m a mom,” she said. “This will give me a chance to protect her and keep an eye on her.”
The Army doesn’t keep records of how often mothers and daughters have enlisted together, but people in the recruiting business say it’s rare. It used to be nearly impossible because the maximum age for enlistment was 35, but the ceiling been raised incrementally, and since early 2006, 42-year-olds could enlist.
A persuasive recruiter
Schlotthauer said she didn’t really have the Army in mind. She wanted to join the Navy Reserve, but she spoke to an Army recruiter on campus one day because, in her words, she “wanted to get some free stuff, like key chains.”
Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Dean from Pleasanton called her soon after. Schlotthauer said she would not have answered the phone if she’d known who was calling, but she didn’t recognize the number.
Dean proved to be persuasive.
She told the teenager there would be money for college or a choice of schools to learn a trade in the Army and the option of traveling to other states or countries. Schlotthauer was hooked.
Because she was not 18, she needed her mother’s permission.
“I was dead set against it from the beginning,” Altoon said.
“I kept putting off Jessica every time she called to set up a meeting,” she said of the recruiter.
More than anything, Altoon was worried that her daughter would end up in a place like Iraq.
But Schlotthauer and Dean convinced her that, as a reservist and computer information technology expert, there was little chance that her daughter would be deployed to a war zone. Not that it’s never happened, Dean said, but the odds are very much against it.
All the talk about the military started to seep into Altoon’s mind, too. She had grown up in Southern California and moved to the Bay Area 13 years ago when her husband took a job here.
Go here for the rest of the Chronicle’s story.