Freeman Supports her Extended Army Family
May 15, 2009
- When her husband returned home from his first tour in Vietnam, Clarissa "TC" Freeman was disappointed and saddened by the reception.
- Freeman serves as the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Kentucky, and was appointed in February 2008.
- "The first Army family I took care of was mine," she said.
- Freeman said she often views her role as a CASA as simply "being there" for the Soldier and the family.
When her husband returned home from his first tour in Vietnam, Clarissa "TC" Freeman was disappointed and saddened by the reception. They were shunned by some, ridiculed by others. The people's lack of support and anger for the Vietnam War at the time was directed back to the servicemembers when they came home. It was an image and experience that was etched in her mind forever. She vowed, never again will she let this happen and has given her full commitment to helping Soldiers and their families since then.
Freeman serves as the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Kentucky, and was appointed in February 2008. Representing Kentucky, she is the Army's special ambassador and interfaces with Army commanders and the Secretary of the Army on issues affecting her region.
"I've been serving the Army and doing CASA work for over 40 years that I guess they decided to just give me the title," Freeman said.
She is a life member of the Association of the U.S. Army and is an active member of several military affiliations such as the Kentucky Military Affairs Commission, Fisher House volunteer, honorary member of the 327th Infantry Regiment, distinguished member of the 502nd and 187th Infantry Regiments, and honorary member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
Freeman is involved with taking care of wounded Soldiers. She plans "welcome home" events with families of Soldiers who are deployed. She sponsors luncheons once a month at the Fisher House.
She is on the forefront of working Base Realignment and Closure issues with local, state and national representatives. She attends and supports various military and military-affiliated events. She arranges free concerts to be given for Soldiers at the Warrior Transition Battalion. She works on housing and ID card issues at Fort Campbell, Ky. She has never served in the Army but has the Army's best interests at the top her mind.
"The first Army family I took care of was mine," she said. Through this experience, she saw how important it was for people outside of the Army to understand the Army. "They didn't understand how important our Army was," she said. "I always feel the need to give something back to our Soldiers and to their families."
As the wife of Vietnam aviator veteran and retired Col. Bobby Freeman, she knows exactly what other spouses go through while their husbands or wives continue to serve their country across the globe. Freeman said she often views her role as a CASA as simply "being there" for the Soldier and the family.
"One time during a welcome home, while other Soldiers had their spouses and their children to greet them and hug them, I saw a single Soldier who did not have anyone greeting him," she said. So she walked over to the Soldier and said, "I just want to give you a hug," and gave that Soldier the reception he deserved.
Freeman found out early in her career as a volunteer and military supporter that sometimes Soldiers and their families need someone to be there for them -- to give them a hug, send greeting cards or pass along a message. "This goes a long way in making that Soldier appreciated and loved," she said.
She often calls family members of deployed Soldiers and offers her support whether it means taking food or other items they need while their Soldier is away, or attending one of their family parties. She also calls the Soldiers' units to find out whether their families can make it to the welcome home celebration. "And when they can't, I stand in for them."
While she is often one of the VIPs or special guests at an event, Freeman always tries to put the focus back on the Soldier. At the 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion ribbon-cutting ceremony on Redstone in April, post commander Maj. Gen. Jim Myles spoke about Freeman's contributions to the military. Myles described Freeman's role as providing direct input to the Secretary of the Army on how the Army is doing.
"I've watched CASAs like TC make a difference in Soldiers' lives in ways green suiters couldn't do," he said.
Myles went on to describe how Freeman has always been there for Army families of the 101st Airborne Division when their Soldiers have been lost. "I consider you a national treasure and a hero," he said.
"It's all about the Soldier, not about me," Freeman said after the ceremony. "I'm the beneficiary of everything that happens."
Freeman continued that nothing can replace the intrinsic reward of seeing Soldiers swell with pride when they come home from deployment and see family, friends and crowds of different people greet them. "They feel good about what they've done," she said.
She has two sons who served in the Persian Gulf. Her daughter's husband is a retired sergeant major; and both serve as Army civilians in Iraq. Retired Col. Bobby Freeman served two tours in Vietnam. His last assignment was at Fort Campbell, where he served as chief of staff before retiring in 1986. The family moved to Hopkinsville, Ky., and has lived there ever since.
Originally from Killeen, Texas, Freeman was involved as an AUSA volunteer at Fort Hood, Texas. No matter where she and her husband went, Freeman made many lifelong friends.
"I've always been involved with the Army," she said. "I take the needs of Fort Campbell to our congressional delegation, talk to the legislators, staffers and with the approval of Fort Campbell, move things up to meet the needs of Fort Campbell. The job is really what you make of it."
CASAs from across the nation gathered recently in San Antonio for an annual conference to interface with the Army secretary on behalf of their states and territories. At the Army Aviation Association of America convention in Nashville, Freeman and her husband reunited with many friends. "We have so many friends here on Redstone and across the country," she said.
"There is a lot that can be done to help our Soldiers," said Freeman. "The job is very gratifying. There are no boundaries to what goodness one can contribute for the benefit of the Soldiers. My family is pretty small, but I've got one big Army family."