Gary and Alicia Lomack were high school sweethearts in the small town of Raeford, North Carolina. They went to college together and got married in 2003.
Little did they know what a whirlwind the next two decades would be as an Army family.
But several moves, four overseas deployments and two children later, the Lomacks are finally settled their home in Madison.
Gary Lomack, a major in the Army Reserve, started his military career as a member of the North Carolina National Guard while he was in college. His studies were interrupted for his first deployment to Iraq.
Upon his graduation in 2008 from Winston-Salem State University, he was ROTC commissioned as an officer in the Army and stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.
In 2012, he was stationed at Redstone Arsenal, where he served as chief of the patient administration division at Fox Army Health Center.
The Lomacks bought a house in Madison where they still live today.
When Gary Lomack was tranferrred in 2014 to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to serve as a Medical Service Corps officer, his family remained in Madison, but later joined him in 2015.
In 2016, Lomack transferred to the Army Reserve and he and his family returned to their home in Madison.
He now works as an Army Reserve administrator at the Huntsville Army Reserve Center. He recently returned from a nine-month tour in Kuwait.
Alicia Lomack, a psychiatric therapist at Huntsville Hospital Pain Center, said the many family separations is the biggest downside to Army life.
“Having your spouse be gone for extended periods of time, sometimes without notice,” she said. “He has missed out on a lot of the kids’ development and milestones.”
However, “there are definitely more pros than cons,” she said.
Son Christian, 17, a senior at James Clemens High School, can easily name the good things about being an Army “brat.”
“I can meet all sorts of new people. So many different cultures you get to see,” he said, adding that he is also a better public speaker because of his experiences.
He regrets having to leave friends who he no longer talks to or knows any more. “Relationships that could have grown more if I could have stayed,” he said.
Christian will attend Auburn University in the fall and pursue a major in pre-medicine, with plans to become a psychiatrist.
He has taken a number of classes in health and science at James Clemens, which has an academy for just that.
Christian participated for a couple of years in “Student 2 Student,” a club that trains military children to establish peer-based programs to support each other as they transition to and from different schools.
He is a member of HOSA, a group for future health professionals (formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America).
This summer, he will be competing as a member of the school’s Beta Club at a leadership conference in Nashville.
His sister Camryn, 14, is an eighth-grade student at Liberty Middle School who also thinks Army life has forced her to be a social person.
The hardest part of the frequent moves in her life is leaving friends behind.
“I have a best friend in Tennessee,” she said. “We still talk to this day.”
Adjusting to a new school and environment is always a challenge, but her next adjustment only involves moving from her Liberty middle school to James Clemens, where she will be a junior varsity cheerleader. She will attend a cheerleading camp this summer at Ole Miss.
Camryn is also an All-Star cheerleader with the ACE Cheer Company “LadyBirds.”
In her spare time, “I like going on runs and taking my dogs (Hershey and Cocoa) on walks,” Camryn said.
Being back in Madison with her father home, “Everything feels back to normal, as the order should be,” she said.
Gary Lomack is proud that both children, as busy as they are, are also stellar students.
“The Army has provided the family stability and structure, and helped them make friends wherever they go,” he said. “They are the most focused and hardworking kids we know and we are grateful for the Army’s continued focus on the military child.”