WASHINGTON -- The newest Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) was invested during a ceremony conducted November 7th at the Pentagon.
Bridget A. Blehm was selected by the Acting Secretary of the Army, Ryan D. McCarthy, to represent California (Southeast).
"I am honored to have been selected as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, it is a testament to the work our all-volunteer organization has been doing for the last 10 years." Blehm said. "I am looking forward and excited to work even harder to make a difference for those who wear the uniform, their families and our communities at large."
CASA are a vital part of the Army, promoting good relationships between the Army and the public and advising the Secretary about regional issues.
"It is my distinct privilege to invest Bridget into the CASA program. You're joining an elite group. You are needed now more than ever given that only one percent of the American population has served in the Armed Forces. You are the bridge from your community to the military. Your support to Soldiers and their Families is unsurpassed. You have a history of supporting Soldiers and their Families through the various charities and boards that you serve on. I am confident that Bridget will have a positive impact to California and the CASA Program."
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.
Blehm spent many years in the mortgage banking industry as vice-president of business development, but has also spent her adult life in volunteerism. She (and her husband, Eddie) have spent the last 12 years dedicating herself to our active Armed Forces. When she learned of the hardships our military and their families were dealing with, she knew she needed to do something to offer support. After several years of offering pre and post deployment celebrations, respite care, baby baskets, Thanksgiving dinners and the Adopt a Military Family for Christmas, she knew she wanted to do something significant to make a difference in the military family's lives and the idea of a retreat (The Re-Entry Lodge) was born. It opened two years ago this January and to date, over 100 families have re-acclimated at the lodge. Building up to this, Blehm served and founded Margaret's Run Around the Block for Cancer, a 5 & 10k run in her sister's memory; served as Chair for Pas de Deux, an adult mother/daughter support group for the Orange County Center for the Performing Arts; served on the Advocacy Board of Susan G. Komen Foundation; founded and will be celebrating the 30th Annual Holiday of Lights Parade in her home town of Yorba Linda, tied to this event have been many different charities to support as an "entrance fee" to the parade; she currently serves as president of her very active homeowners association. Her dedication to the military stems from childhood to the present. As a teenager she visited the injured Marines at Camp Pendleton. Her father served in the Army on active duty and in the reserves for a total of approximately 32 years and retired as a Warrant Officer 4. Joining him in service were her seven uncles. She feels blessed to have come from parents who taught by example she and her siblings to give back.
CASAs serve a two-year term without compensation. Terms may be extended to a total of 10 years of service. The secretary may recognize a civilian aide as a CASA Emeritus after 10 years with distinguished service.