I joined the military at age 29, I was married with a son who was about to turn 10 the day, I left for BMT, back in June 1992. No one in my family including my then husband thought I would finish, only a few close friends, and a couple of relatives. My MOS was Services, I wanted to learn everything about running a restaurant because my grandmother had a little jazz club that served food and all of the big names used to stop by there when I was growing up. When I got to Lackland, I discovered that I was the oldest person there. I was even older than my T.I., who was a man; and we were his first female flight. I was latrine queen, and that was an experience for me, and I had worked in hotels, and the international airport as a janitor, but was fired twice for telling women that they were nasty. lol, By, week,4, I had sprung my ankle, but I wasn't going to tell anyone, because; I had to prove that I could do this. But the last week, my ankle had started to get worst, by the day before graduation, my ankle had swollen so much that; I was sent to sick call, and they had to actually cut the back of my tennis shoe up to slide my foot out. I wasn't allowed to march for graduation, for I was wrapped up and on crutches, I was yelled at for not using them properly earlier that morning of graduation by another T.I.; who informed me that I and those crutches were both properties of the United States Air Force for the rest of my entire life; if I should die, I am still property of Uncle Sam. But, my T.I. took me to a place where I could see everything and be in air condition because it was extremely hot that morning. Then, as my squadron the 3701st was marching back to our dorms, I was waiting and got into position and hobbled back in formation with them. I would cherish those days. I have worked various outside careers, and even within the military, I was able to work with all of the branches and at the Pentagon. I had broken my neck, and my first day back to work was on Sept.11, 2001. If I had it to do over again, I would have joined right after high school. I later joined the American Legion in the worst part of my life, they saved me in so many ways. I was facing losing my home, I had lost a man whom I loved, that also worked for the government and died on the job. My son was behaving badly, and I was told to go and speak with someone down there at the Legion. I did, and he helped me. A week later after I got over my petty party, I came down there, to thank everyone for their help. I mean, They helped me find a place to live, moved me clear across town; and took my son off of my hands for a couple of hours. Giving me time to think. I ended up becoming a Service Officer, then membership chairperson, then 1st vice, next becoming the first black female Commander in the state of Oklahoma for an American Legion Post, I then became 2nd Vice, was selected to go to Legion College in 2010. I got to meet the officials from the Republic of China Veteran's Affairs Administration. In 2014, I was selected as one of the Top 25 Finalist for Ms. Veteran America in Washington D.C., and once again, my Legion family helped me with purchasing the evening gowns and the other things that I needed. Although I didn't get any farther in the competition; My Legion family was there to cheer me on. I entered not thinking I would get very far in it, but; it was a worthy cause to bring awareness to homeless women veterans. I didn't realize, there was that many women veterans that were homeless and many of them had children and I remembered how I got involved in the Legion, was because I was once facing losing my home.
I am always hugging a veteran and thanking him or her for their service where ever I go. A niece of mine had asked me why I always wear my Legion hat, almost everywhere I go. I told her because I never know who I might get to meet, there is always a veteran somewhere around, where you may be, who has never heard of the American Legion and what we do. And I want them to know there is always a place where they can go and feel at home among friends, who will turn into a family away from your family.
So, I am proud to be in a family of those brave men and women, who are nieces and nephews of Uncle Sam, a member of the American Legion, may it last another 100 years, if the good Lord doesn't come first.
Lisa A. "Legz" Milner, Past Cmdr. Tulsa Post 1, Oklahoma.