During a speech in Washington, D.C., March 2, the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama encouraged female veterans to tell their stories. "All of you learned how to build a team and lead others under pressure, and complete any mission in front of you no matter what it takes," she said. "See, that's why it's important that you tell your own stories. Our girls, our daughters and granddaughters, need to hear them," Obama said. This article is part of a five-part series highlighting female veterans serving with the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, a Patriot Missile unit tasked to defend the skies over South Korea. Their stories are unique and empowering, a testament to the strength and diversity Army women bring to the profession of arms. Editor's Note.
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- At the tender age of 16, U.S. Army Capt. Jessica Bohache, sitting on her couch at home in Cincinnati, Ohio, was viewing a military documentary on the History Channel and instantly knew that is what she wanted to do with her life.
Now, as the commander of A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 35th ADA Brigade, stationed at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, she knows it was the right thing for her.
"The documentary was about people who had served in the military," Bohache said. "I was really impressed by what they all did. It was then I realized I didn't want to think about getting older and know I had never served my country, so I decided to join the Army."
Her service didn't being immediately. Bohache finished high school then attended University of Cincinnati where she was a member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. Upon her graduation she commissioned as an air defense officer and attended the Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
"My first duty station was with 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th ADA Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas," Bohache said. "From there I deployed to Kuwait as a tactical director."
Being deployed was a brand new experience.
"Kuwait was a learning experience plus it was the first time I had ever been out of the country," she said. "I got to learn a lot about my job while there in the desert at Camp Arifjan."
The sobering realization of being a female in the Army also hit her while in Kuwait.
"It was obviously a big cultural experience. We worked with a Kuwaiti air defense unit on a weekly basis," Bohache said. "There were no women around. The younger men who were closer to my age seemed like they were more willing to work with me however, the older men had more reservations."
After a deployment to Qatar and now being stationed in South Korea, another thing Bohache found out about the Army that the documentary maybe didn't spell out is how difficult it is to be away from her Family.
"I am a big Family person so not being able to be part of their daily lives is one of the most difficult aspects to military life," Bohache said. "My brother had a son about a year ago and I've only seen him once. It's really hard not being part of their growth as a family."
This self-proclaimed daddy's girl learned something from her father that has become another tool in her toolkit to help get through the tough times.
"I talk to my dad all the time," she said. "He is the type of person who can always find the positive in any situation. This has proven to be a valued skill for me as a part of the military especially as a battery commander. My dad always let me finish venting about something stressful. Then he would come back with a positive message for me."
The nature lover is also an optimist and recently began listening to a lot of podcasts.
"I just reviewed one which involved a documentary called 'Raising Ms. President,' and an interesting fact I learned is that research shows females often need to be encouraged to do something five or six times before they believe they can do it themselves," Bohache said. "The documentary suggested to always be one of those five or six people to encourage a female so they begin to believe in themselves. I will always take the opportunity to be one of those five or six people when a young female has hesitations about what she can do in life."
Another important lesson Bohache has learned about Army life is how instrumental good leaders are for personal and professional development.
"Good leadership is engaged leadership. If you have a leader that is willing to reach out to you and show you the ropes to develop you as a person -- that is really important to me," she said. "I was lucky enough to have leaders that did that early in my career."
Bohache said there have been a few times when she was deployed or training here in South Korea when she wondered if it was all worth it.
"There have been a few times when I asked myself if it is all really worth the trade off," she said. "But at the end of the day, the answer is always 'yes,' and that's why I'm still here."
Bohache left her command position having completed her tour as a battery commander in late April 2016, and will be taking some leave to visit her Family back in Ohio. She hasn't been told where her next assignment will be but she will be optimistic and looking for the positive wherever she ends up.
"I am doing this 100 percent because I have a passion for being in the Army. It makes it easy to get up each morning because I am doing something I want to do," she said.