By Capt. Joshuah ChastainApril 17, 2017
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The ranks of the South Carolina Army National Guard are filled with Soldiers who have inspirational stories of personal sacrifice in order to balance military service and family. One of these Soldiers is Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Hoffhaus, a squad leader in Company A, 4-118th Combined Arms Battalion, 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
Hoffhaus, who joined the South Carolina National Guard in June 2005, recently participated in annual training at Fort Stewart, Georgia. While there, he reflected on his nearly 12 years of service with Company A, which includes deployments to Japan, Kuwait, Afghanistan and also support to the state during the 2015 flood and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Hoffhaus is married to another soldier who also serves in the South Carolina National Guard. Sgt. Cecilia Hoffhaus is a member of the 151st Expeditionary Signal Battalion in Greenwood, South Carolina. Throughout their time together, the two of them have learned to manage their civilian careers, their National Guard schedules, deployments and family time.
When they welcomed a baby girl into their lives in November of 2016, the challenges continued for the family. Kennedy was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a condition that occurs in less than 1000 births in the United States each year. Now the couple is working to balance their schedules as well as doctor's appointments and surgeries for their young daughter who has already had two operations. Despite it all, they have remained committed and steadfast to the South Carolina National Guard.
Hoffhaus shared that the reason he has stayed in the National Guard are for the opportunities, professional development and seeing direct reports succeed. He also believes that being a member of the organization has made him a better civilian employer and overall a better man. Certain aspects of Hoffhaus being a Soldier have made him more marketable to his employer, with leadership experiences and discipline that prepared him for a promotion to operations supervisor at Eaton Corporation in Duncan, South Carolina.
Caring for a young infant with HLHS can be hard for any parent, but serving away from your family in the military can magnify the challenges. However, the Hoffhaus's discovered there is a bond with fellow Soldiers in the National Guard that makes overcoming these challenges possible.
"We've received nothing but support from the National Guard, from the state Chaplain all the way down to my Platoon Sergeant and everyone in between. His unit's First Sgt. Eric Gallman was someone who was especially supportive of the family. I couldn't ask for anything more from the National Guard," said Hoffhaus. "The support and encouragement have been amazing."