Wearing the uniform together as Soldiers
August 24, 2012
They didn't meet wearing the uniform.
But together as a married couple for the past 13 years, they have certainly shared the responsibility, duty and commitment that characterize the Army's Soldiers.
Maj. Gen. Lynn Collyar, the new commander of the Aviation and Missile Command, and Col. Sarah Green, the new staff judge advocate for the Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, have shown that making the Army a family affair has been good for both their careers and their personal lives.
"There are advantages to marrying another officer," Collyar said. "You know what the other person has done, and you have a better understanding of how we do things and why and how it affects each other."
As with any dual-track professional career couple, there is sacrifice and compromise, and a commitment to make it work against all odds.
"There are ups and downs in assignments," Green said. "We can't both be on the top-tier track. But we can both do our jobs with confidence and we can both progress in our careers. We can both progress as professionals."
The Collyar/Green couple, who have been at Redstone since early June, feel they have definitely hit the jackpot for both of their careers with their new assignments. Outside the Washington, D.C., area, Redstone is one of the few installations where both can excel professionally while stationed together. And with Collyar a Huntsville native, the assignment has given him the opportunity to be close to his mother and his sister, who works for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce. It has given Green a chance to better know her husband's family and longtime local friends, and to visit her own family in Memphis. Besides catching up with old friends in Huntsville, Collyar and his wife have also reconnected with military friends who have retired here.
Both apart and together the couple have lived in several military communities through Collyar's 33 years of service and Green's 27 years.
"I've been to some great military communities," Green said. "They have been very supportive, a lot of fun and home to great military families. But Huntsville is great, too. It is so supportive of the military. It's unlike any place I've ever been. The people here are so proud to be supportive of the military."
Collyar's parents both worked for the Army at Redstone as civil servants. His dad was a Missile Command employee while his mom worked for the Ordnance Munitions and Electronic Maintenance School, the very organization that moved to Fort Lee, Va., recently when Collyar commanded as the 35th chief of Ordnance.
"My dad (who has passed away) was a relatively senior civil servant. He never worked with a significant number of military. He was in the scientific community," Collyar said.
"I expected to go to West Point and do a few years with the Army, and then get into the research and development side with my dad. I expected to come back and do that kind of work. But every officer should experience a company command before they leave the Army. I did and I really enjoyed it, and I've enjoyed everything about being in command since."
The couple met in the early 1990s while living in the D.C. area. Although both were working at the Pentagon -- Collyar as the deputy chief of staff for logistics in the Office of Resource Management and Green as the assistant executive officer for the assistant judge advocate general for civil law and litigation -- their paths had not crossed. At the time, Green worked with someone who lived in Collyar's neighborhood and he introduced them at one of the neighborhood's get-togethers. But it wasn't long before Green deployed to Somalia with the United Task Force in support of Operation Restore Hope.
"Lynn helped my sister move me out of my place," Green said.
During the next several years, the couple managed to date and then marry despite various separations. Both served at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where Green was the senior defense counsel to the 25th Infantry Division and Collyar was the executive officer for the 725th Main Support Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, the Division G-4 plans and operations officer and then the deputy chief of staff of logistics.
Assignments then took Green to Korea, where she was the deputy staff judge advocate for the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Red Cloud, while Collyar served as the deputy logistics officer of Joint Task Force 180, during the 25th Infantry Division's deployment to Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti. They both then served at Fort Bragg, N.C., where Green was the chief of the Administrative Law Division of the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate for the XVII Airborne Corps and Collyar was the executive officer/deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division Support Command.
In July 1997, the couple were separated when Collyar took command of the 189th Corps Support Battalion, 1st Corps Support Command, XVIII Airborne Corps and deployed to Central America where he served as Joint Logistics Task Force commander in support of Operation Strong Support. Other separations took Green to Heidelberg, Germany, where she was a deputy judge advocate and Collyar to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002 as commander of the 29th Support Group, 21st Theater Support Command.
The couple reunited at the Pentagon, where Green served for eight years with the Office of the Judge Advocate General while Collyar served as the chief of the Focused Logistics Division, Force Development, Headquarters Department of the Army G-8. But separation came once again as Collyar went on to serve as commander of the Defense Distribution Center, a primary level field activity of the Defense Logistics Agency based in New Cumberland, Pa., and more recently as the 35th chief of Ordnance at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and at Fort Lee, Va.
"For us, it's always been that the Army's needs take first priority. That could mean you don't always get stationed together," Collyar said. "The more senior you get, the harder it is to be stationed together."
But Green doesn't see their sacrifices being much different from those of other couples and families.
"It's not just the military that has separations. A lot of families go through that," she said.
"There were many times when I could go home on the weekend or Sarah could come where I was," Collyar added.
The couple said their career decisions may have been different if there had been children to raise. But even without children, Green has made some sacrifices that allowed the couple more time together.
"She has made decisions not to pursue more schooling, and that has limited her ability for promotions," Collyar said.
"I took myself along a different track. Those are personal decisions," Green added.
The couple attribute their success as an Army couple to being able to compromise and sacrifice for each other and the Army. Their journey is one they believe other married military couples can travel successfully.
"There'll be a time when you'll have to make decisions on career versus family, on which career is the priority," Green said. "One may have to sacrifice for the other.
"I've been fortunate in that the JAG is a small group where we all know each other. It's easier to take care of your people when you are smaller. The senior leadership of the JAG corps has bent over backward for us. They really have been good at supporting us. If that hadn't been the case, I would have had to make some tough decisions."
Throughout their careers and marriage, things have worked out, issues have been dealt with, and life has provided plenty of opportunities for them both.
"Every Soldier, every officer, has to manage their own career. But the Army will assist you and get you where you want to go," Collyar said.
The couple are looking forward to enjoying Redstone and the local community together.
"Huntsville is a great community, but it's not just a great military community," Collyar said. "It's a high-tech community that happens to have a military base here that also fits into that mold. It started its growth based on the military and NASA. But Huntsville expanded beyond that and today is a community of high-tech, very well-educated people. Huntsville has stayed focused on the right things to constantly expand the community."
Likewise, Collyar is enjoying his command assignment with AMCOM.
"AMCOM has lived up to the reputation that I had heard about," he said. "The people here care, work hard and want to do the right things. I'm very proud of what this organization has accomplished in supporting the war fighter and the Army."
Green is looking forward to becoming more familiar with the "very niche organization" known worldwide as SMDC/ARSTRAT, and to supporting commander Lt. Gen. Richard Formica's initiatives both within the organization and in the local community.
The couple are appreciative of the role Team Redstone has in the Huntsville/Tennessee Valley community. But they would like to see more Arsenal civilians take advantage of what the Redstone community has to offer off hours.
"I think it's somewhat challenging that you have organizations that are largely civilian and not more civilian presence around the Arsenal," Collyar said. "We have great employees with organizations like Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, Army Community Service, the Child Development Centers and Youth Services that are providing the right kind of services. The facilities here are terrific and there are great events. I would like see us get more of our civilians using these facilities."
As far as their careers go, Redstone and Huntsville will likely be their last assignment.
"We're going to stay," Green said. "This is it for us. This will be our retirement home."
Collyar said they had planned to retire in Huntsville long before they were assigned to Redstone.
"We're happy to be here. We're proud to be part of Team Redstone," Collyar said. "I think we do have a great group of military and civilian leaders on the Arsenal and in the community, and we want to be a part of that."