PASADENA, Calif. -- Capt. Matt Pratt and his wife Lisa lived the dream of the Army Family Covenant on Feb. 1, in Southern California.

Lisa Pratt earned an all-expenses-paid trip to record a three-song demo CD at DMI Music's Firehouse Recording Studios in Pasadena by winning the 2009 Operation Rising Star singing contest, one of hundreds of programs the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command provides for Soldiers and their families.

After her first session in the recording studio, Pratt sang the praises of the Army Family Covenant, which pledges to support Soldiers and their families with resourced programs that deliver a quality of life commensurate with their service and sacrifice to the nation.

"The Army Family Covenant, this is what it is," Lisa said before departing the recording studio to attend The Jay Leno Show in Burbank, where she got to meet one of the world's most famous comedians. "It really is awesome. It gives the families high-quality programs at home and around the world."

"I never knew that Operation Rising Star was going to open all these doors for me."

For Lisa, the journey to serve as an ambassador for FMWRC's Army Entertainment Division had just begun. For Matt, who redeployed from Mosul, Iraq, last autumn and accompanied his wife from Fort Carson, Colo., to Hollywood, the Operation Rising Star winner's journey reaffirmed his belief in the Army's promise to support Soldiers and families.

"I'm trying to take it all in, but it's an emotional time for me because I get to see Lisa do what she absolutely loves doing," said Matt, a 2006 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. "For the past year while I was in Iraq, she was supporting me and what I was doing. Now the Army has provided me the opportunity to sit here and support her with what she does."

"It's like it has come full-circle for us. There are a lot of emotions that are going into it, but I couldn't be happier seeing her doing what she's good at doing and what she loves doing."

Matt never had the opportunity to sit back and watch his wife of nearly four years perform until she took the stage to compete in Operation Rising Star, a program best described as American Idol for the military.

"In church, I play the guitar and she sings," he said. "But to see her under the lights and me be on the receiving end as part of the audience, I'd never had the opportunity to do that. I've always been out on a field exercise or deployed. So when I came out to see her at Fort Belvoir and be there when her name was announced as the winner, that was the first opportunity I've had to be there, no kidding, instead of hearing about it on the Internet or seeing it in photos."

Matt knew that Lisa had won a recording gig, but he had no idea what level of professionalism awaited them in Pasadena.

"To come into a place like DMI Studios and see the setup they have - the professional musicians and the services they are providing - it's all sort of unraveling real fast what is really involved," he said. "That's part of the magic. It's overwhelming to see the level that she's at and to see her basking in it. It still seems very surreal."

"I asked her, 'Is this really happening'' And she said, 'I don't think it is,' so I think both of us are sort of caught in some sort of hyper-reality right now."

Lisa is not the only Pratt singing the praises of the Army Family Covenant.

"I told my Soldiers the day before we flew out here to Los Angeles that for the next week I was going to be in Los Angeles with my wife and she's going to be in a recording studio and we're going to get to enjoy the sights and take it all in," Matt said. "But we're not just going for a vacation; the Army's sending us. So if anybody ever tells you the Army this-and-that and there is a downside, you know, there's also an upside to it."

"So here we are in sunny Los Angeles right now, and the Army Family Covenant is the reason we're here, and I couldn't be more grateful."

The Pratts believe it is only a matter of time before more Army families will experience the promise.

"For folks like Lisa and I, we understand that it's real because there is something tangible for us to touch right now," Matt said. "For those that it hasn't impacted yet, it sort of seems like another ad campaign. But I would say as time goes on and more people buy into this Army Family Covenant, especially people in key leadership positions, I think more Soldiers will figure out the realness of it."

"I'm at a battalion level right now and I say it's getting there because Lisa and I have been able to tell people about it ... as opposed to just being another thing that looks good on paper and preaches well at the Pentagon."

"It's making its way down, I think, slowly but surely. As more programs touch more Soldiers, you're going to find it making its way into everybody's vocabulary."

Matt said this was the Pratts' best family experience since they said 'I do," and he redeployed from the Middle East.

"The only thing I would compare this to, as far as the level of emotion I feel, was walking into the gym and seeing Lisa for that first time after I came back from Iraq," he said. "This is up there. It's on par with that sort of feeling of surreal. This is one of the most exciting times since Lisa and I have been together."

Matt then hustled away and drove Lisa to meet Leno.

Page last updated Tue February 2nd, 2010 at 15:15