Family embodies Army Strong legacy
September 2, 2010
- Mother, brother deployed to Afghanistan return for basic training graduation
- All 3 are members of the Vermont National Guard
PVT Caleb Houston's graduation from basic training Sept. 2 turned into a family reunion for the Vermont National Guardsman.
His mother, SFC Maureen Houston, and older brother, SPC Brion Houston, traveled from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, where they are deployed with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, to attend his graduation.
Caleb, 18, graduated from high school in May without any immediate family attending but knew his mother was hoping to coordinate her 15 days of environmental morale leave to fall during the week of his basic training graduation.
"I missed his high school graduation, I missed his 18th birthday, I said I wasn't going to miss this," said Maureen, who raised her three children as a single mother after a divorce.
The children's father died last year.
"When I got divorced and the kids were little, I had no male influence and I had to be strong so I went by the Army values," Maureen said. "That's how I raised them. I wasn't strict or lenient; it was 'this is what I expect.' No less, no more."
Maureen said the example she's set over the years encouraged her children's interests in joining the military. Maureen's oldest daughter was an Army medic before leaving the military to start a family.
Brion is an Infantryman with the Vermont National Guard and worked for a local police department before he deployed. Maureen is a postal worker in civilian life. She's learned to juggle her military and civilian careers as a citizen-Soldier and said her children followed in her footsteps because they saw how she made it work.
Caleb enlisted in the Guard as an information systems operator and will join the 86th IBCT after his advanced individual training at Fort Gordon, Ga.
As a belated birthday surprise - his birthday was last week while Maureen and Brion were in transit from Afghanistan - Maureen flew Caleb's girlfriend, Meghan Poissant, down for the graduation. Caleb's grandparents, Ralph and Meme Lemnah, and his great aunt, Meg, also traveled from Vermont for the ceremony.
"We tried to keep it a secret," Maureen said. "But the excitement was to much. I would be writing e-mails and type 'Brion and I are so excited to be coming' and then I'd have to backspace, backspace, backspace."
By family day Sept. 1, Caleb knew all of his family would be there, with the exception of his girlfriend, who surprised him when he spotted her sitting next to his mother during the brief ceremony before the Soldiers were dismissed to spend the day with their families.
Caleb said he appreciates that his mother and brother could be there.
"It was special to me," Caleb said. "I think before coming to (basic training) I took them for granted. I didn't realize how much they appreciated me, there's more of a bond now."
Maureen and Brion are due to redeploy in December. Caleb will be reunited with them in Vermont following his 17-week AIT.