Enlisting in the Army Reserve in 2004, Jennifer Brashear – Aery, of Orange, thought at first she was joining for the education benefits, but later found pride, honor and a husband in her life.

“I wanted to go to college, but later it became a point of pride in myself for serving my county…”

“The year I graduated 911 happened. We sat there, [at West Orange-Stark High School] and watched a plane hit the second tower and that’s when we started crying. A large majority of my generation [are] also standing up against what happened. It was part of the reason I joined – my country needed me – because of 911 – it was in our minds.”

“I think there is [another] large majority of my generation that joined for college, travel, and health benefits,” She said.

She meet her husband, Jacob Aery of Vidor, in her unit a few months after basic training when he came back from Iraq. Though she thought he was a “jerk” at first, one thing lead to another and now they have two kids, ages 5 and 3.

Jennifer was with the 1002 Quarter Master Company Fueling Unit. After hurricane Rita the company was transferred from Pleasure Island to Beaumont.

In 2008 Jennifer became pregnant with her second child, a daughter, and received pregnancy counselling from the military, which is normal for women in the service. She told the counselor she was nervous about being deployed at the same time as her husband. Later on she found out she was given an honorable discharge for medical reasons.

“At first I was upset because [the 1002 Company] were like a second family to me. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I don’t have to worry any more. I love it. I miss it.”

Jennifer is the Family Readiness Group, (FRG) co-leader, which helps with families of military personal and those who are in the military cope with the duties and the lifestyle.
Her husband likes the fact that she is the FRG co-leader. It’s her way of being in the unit but not being in the military.

According to Sgt.1st Class Rory Carothers, the station commander and recruiter for the Army Reserve in Port Arthur, to join the reserve you must be 17 to 42 years old, a  U.S. citizen, be a high school senior, have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

“A lot of people think [the Army Reserve] swear[s] you in and you’re in…It’s just not like that,” Jennifer said, “You have to go through a lot of steps to make sure you’re able to join… that’s [the place] were it hit me ‘This is more than [just] paying for collage. It’s more than what I first signed up for.”

There is a local Army Reserve recruiting station in Port Arthur at 8661 9th Ave. For more information please call Carothers at 409-722-8782 or go online to goarmy.com and visit the online recruiter guide.

“I wish that people would see…vets that are alive now… feel like they are neglected…” Jennifer said, “I feel like they are neglected. They need to be heard and more attention needs to be paid to them, because if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be where we are today.”