WASHINGTON (December 7, 2015) -- Ellsbeth Viola "Val" Alepuyo was invested as a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army (CASA) by Gerald O'Keefe, Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, during an early November virtual ceremony conducted simultaneously here and in Saipan.

Alepuyo was selected by former Secretary of the Army John McHugh to represent the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Territory in the Northern Pacific Ocean. Her Investiture Ceremony was originally scheduled to be held in Saipan, however, it was delayed indefinitely after Typhoon Soudelor left the Islands a national disaster area. In order to proceed with her CASA duties, a virtual investiture ceremony was held.

"It's unfortunate that we were unable to host the ceremony in the Northern Mariana Islands, but with so many families still homeless and continued issues with communications, this was the best option," O'Keefe said. "The Islands have shown great support to the U.S. Army and we appreciate all they do. I know that Val will effectively serve this area and the Secretary of the Army."

CASAs are a vital part of the Army, promoting good relations between the Army and the public and advising the Secretary about regional issues.

Each state, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories have one or more CASAs appointed to provide a vital link between the Army and the communities for which they serve. CASAs are usually business or civic leaders who possess a keen interest in the welfare of the Army and their communities.

Alepuyo earned a bachelor's degree from Washington State University and a Juris Doctor from University of Idaho College of Law. She was born and raised on Saipan and is a U.S. Army veteran, having served four years with a tour in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. She returned home to Saipan to practice law, including positions at the Office of the Public Defender and Office of the Attorney General and now is an Attorney in a general law firm practice on the island.

CASAs serve a two-year term without compensation. Terms may be extended to a total of 10 years of service, followed by possible appointment as a CASA Senior for 10 additional years. The secretary may recognize a civilian aide as a CASA Emeritus after 20 years of service. To date, more than 500 individuals have served the Army and the nation as a CASA.

For more information, contact Wayne V. Hall at 703-693-7589, or wayne.v.hall.civ@mail.mil.