Vanessa K. Peeden serves with the Army Contracting Command as a protocol specialist. In addition, she serves in the U.S. Army Reserve as the first sergeant of the 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment at Gillem Enclave in Atlanta, Ga.

Describe your current position:

As the ACC protocol specialist, I am responsible for conceptualizing, planning, coordinating and executing all protocol aspects of visiting dignitaries. I also assist with special ceremonies hosted by the senior ACC leadership. Through my Army Reserve career as a public affairs Soldier, I learned about military customs and courtesies which have helped prepare me for the responsibilities of this job. My military experience has also taught me that the only constant in life is change itself.

Describe your passion for the job:

This job is great because it allows me to "rub elbows" with all kinds of interesting people. I also get to attend a lot of community-related events and ceremonies. Most of all, I get to work with servicemen and women from all walks of life.

Where do you call home? What do you do during your spare time?

The Huntsville area is home. I'm something of a novelty as I'm a fourth generation native of Lacey's Spring, Ala. The majority of people you meet here are from somewhere else. I've been married 32 years to a wonderful man, Raoul, and we have two grown daughters and two grandchildren, 6-month-old twins. In my spare time, I play with the twins, camp out at the Tennessee River, attend battle assemblies for the Army Reserve and work in the garden.

How does your job support the war fighter?

My job helps the commanding general and command sergeant major make decisions on which events to attend, who to invite and other details of the event. It frees them up so that they can focus on the more important aspects of their jobs like accomplishing the mission and watching out for the welfare of Soldiers.

What would you like others to know about you?

In 1974, I saw a billboard for the U.S. Army saying, "Why not live in Europe instead of just visiting, join the Army," so I did. I joined the Women's Army Corps and completed basic training at Fort McClellan, Ala. My basic training cycle was only the second to fire the M16 rifle and we didn't have to qualify. After my initial contract, I returned home, went to college and started raising a family. I eventually realized how much I missed the service, so I joined the Army Reserve in 1994 and have been deployed three times - once to Bosnia- Herzegovina and twice to Iraq. In December, I'm retiring from the Army Reserve, but I will be a Soldier for life! I'm looking forward to the next chapter in life.