Fort Bragg Soldier turns tragedy into opportunity to give back
September 30, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - "My husband brought a lot of energy, enthusiasm and light to our Family," said Master Sgt. Jennifer Loredo of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "When he died I was really scared of the way that our lives would change. I did not know how I was going to continue to bring all that to my Family on my own."
After losing her husband, the single mother of two, Loredo took three months off to be with her children to decide how to use her experience to help others.
"I love the Army." Loredo said. "I love serving my country and being a leader, but I didn't know how I was going to still do those things with this huge loss in my Family's life."
Loredo began the healing process by immersing herself in projects that personally touched her. She took on roles in which she was able to use her experiences to help train and mentor Soldiers.
The causality assistance officer-training program seemed like a good place to start trying to make a difference, said Loredo.
Loredo's firsthand experience with CAO's gave her an understanding of the value of receiving quality help from those tasked with that duty, but she said she felt she could add something to the training Soldiers received.
"It's a good course, but sometimes when you meet somebody who has walked in those shoes as a survivor and you hear their story, it makes you take it (CAO duties) more serious than just watching an actor on a video. I think they see just how important what it is they do," said Loredo.
Loredo experiences have continued to open doors for her to teach and mentor Soldiers. As a master resilience trainer teaching Soldiers resilience skills, she is tasked with educating Soldiers on using resilience skills.
"Not only am I able to teach these skills, but I'm able to use them in my everyday life because of my experiences," said Loredo. "I think I was a pretty resilient person before the training, but we can always do better."
Loredo is also an active-duty representative to Survivor Outreach Services working group in which she provides firsthand experience from a surviving, active-duty spouse perspective. In her spare time, between being a full time mother, Soldier and community activist, Loredo recently took a week's leave to volunteer and take part in the Fayetteville Extreme Makeover, Home Edition project.
She uses her personal tragedy as a way to give more of herself to others and this made her a great "face of strength" candidate, said Col. Marsha Lilly, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Strategic Communications and Plans chief.
"She is a unique Soldier because the Army is her Family and the respect she receives from her fellow Soldiers is special."