Setting out to fulfill a life-long dream of joining the Army, Michelle Silverman asked her daughter Amber Pearson to go down to the recruiter's office with her for moral support. Little did she know that her daughter would be joining the Army right along with her.
Silverman, 37, was a homemaker taking some courses at the local college who always felt that something was missing from her life. She always wanted to join the Army, but put marriage and children first.
Three children and 18 years later, Silverman headed down to the recruiter's office to see if she could make a dream come true.
"My husband and I had been talking about it lot, so when he said, 'I think that would be great; I think you can do it,' I called my daughter up and asked her to go down to the Army recruiter's office with us," said Silverman.
"My dad went with us and as the recruiter began talking about the Army and answering my mom's questions, I kept saying 'that's great, that's awesome.' My father said, jokingly, 'my daughter will be in tomorrow to sign up.' I never really gave the Army much thought until then," said Pearson.
Now both mom and daughter are privates attending Advanced Individual Training at the AMEDD Center and School to become combat medics.
2LT Sherrilynne Cherry, executive officer of B Company in the 232nd Medical Battalion, recalls hearing a Soldier medic encouraging another not to fall out of the run during morning physical training.
"Occasionally I would hear, 'Don't quit Momma, keep on going' or 'You can do it, Momma.' I just thought she was using 'Momma' like slang," Cherry said. "As we finished the run I noticed the Soldier again applauding the other and referring to her as 'Momma.' They caught me looking at them and they both exclaimed, at the same time, 'that's my daughter - that's my momma, Ma'am!'"
"They went on to tell me that their entire Family had joined the Army. I asked how does the whole Family decide to join the Army at the same time; what a conversion they must have had over dinner," Cherry added.
"Going to basic training was a little bit of a culture shock for me. Like I said, I'm 37. The physical stuff gave me a hard time; it was bit of a challenge for me," said Silverman. "It was also really hard going from the mom who sets the rules, to being on the other end. Adapting to that was a little bit rough at first."
"I had the advantage at basic training, I had support that nobody else had. The whole time I was in basic training, I would say to myself, this sucks, I'm going to talk to my mom," said Pearson. "A lot of Soldiers at basic training wished they had their moms there to talk to.
"I've always had a lot of respect for my mother. I've always known her to be a strong individual, but it was in a mental way, now it is also physical. She persevered through it (basic training) she met the standards, just as much as I did," said Pearson.
"We talked about it; we knew that she (Silverman) was going to have an issue with basic, and that I would have a problem at AIT. I helped her through basic, now she's pushing me through AIT," said Pearson. "This experience has made me realize that I definitely can't do everything on my own - it's okay to combine people and take their strengths and weaknesses, somehow mold it together to form a puzzle and make it work, to get the end result."
"That's the cohesive thing they (the Army) keep telling us about," added Silverman.
"Oh yeah," said Pearson.
"This experience has regrounded me, instead of being somebody's wife or somebody's mother, it (the Army) gave me a piece of me back, it helped capture some of my identity back," said Silverman. "I think I found my place, and it is not too bad."
After training, the mother and daughter team will return to their hometown of Poland, Maine, as Soldiers serving in the Army National Guard.
Silverman's entire Family is currently serving in the Army National Guard in Maine, with the exception of younger daughter, Kelly, who plans to join next year following high school graduation.