Debra Funderwhite: Debra is a current resident of FP. She was born in Indiana, PA. Debra served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1982-1988. She is one of nine children, seven of whom have also served in the U.S. Army. After her mother’s death when she was 15 years old, Debra looked toward the military as an avenue to pay for college. She signed up for a Split Option Program where she went to boot camp in summer between her Junior and Senior years of high school. After her Senior year, Debra went to Fort Gordon, GA where she completed training for her MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) as a communication specialist and smoke generator operator. Debra was attached to chemical unit as a smoke generator operator and was one of only ten women in the 120 person chemical unit. Following her training, Debra returned to college and stayed in the ROTC Program. Debra completed her college degree and is currently employed as a photographer. She has told visual stories of people from many cultures all over the world. Today, Debra is active in the local FP American Legion.
A LEGACY OF FAMILY MILITARY SERVICE
Six years in the U.S. Army as a communications specialist
One of 10 women in a chemical unit of 120
One of nine children and seven have served in the U.S Army
Influence of her older sister Maria
The only way to go to college and make a difference was to join the military
MOS-SPECIALIZED TRAINING & ROTC
Fort Gordon, GA for training to be a communication specialist
Returned to college and the ROTC Program
Attached to a chemical unit as a smoke generator operator
Field training to establish communications throughout the space in the field section
Served during the U.S. invasion of Grenada, but never deployed
College ROTC program
Left the program at the end of her sophomore year
Extending her service wasn’t right for her at that time
Returning to civilian life was more drastic after the boot camp than after six years of service
BENEFITS OF SERVICE AND FUTURE MESSAGE
“...for me it was a very good thing. It built my confidence. I think that if you have the opportunity to serve in the military, or in any way, wow, do it! I mean, everybody wasn’t meant to be in the military. If you have a desire, it’s a good thing. Don’t let anybody knock you for your desire to do it. If it weren’t for our military, we wouldn’t be the country that we are. It’s a life choice, and we need it! And if it works for you, do it! And, God bless America!-because we wouldn’t be sitting her otherwise... I think that it’s done great things for my family and I’m really proud of all of them for their service."
Full Interview - Transcript
If You Have the Chance to Serve...
Interviewing, research, writing and design by Nancy Cavaretta