NEWS | June 28, 2021

The Utah National Guard Celebrates Pride Month in June

By Sgt. 1st Class John Etheridge Utah National Guard

During the month of June, the Utah National Guard celebrates Pride Month to commemorate LGBTQ+ service members and civilians for their dedicated service to both the Guard’s mission and to our nation. Pride Month brings the LGBTQ+ community together with its families, friends and allies to take pride in themselves and their many achievements. Throughout history, brave LGTBQ+ Soldiers and civilians have served and fought for our nation.

 

Staff Sgt. Jessica Ferre, Communications Specialist, HHB 2-222nd Field Artillery Battalion

Date joined: Jan. 9, 2012.

Why did you decide to join?

I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself physically and mentally.

What has been your favorite moment or part of serving?

Teaching the Basic Leader Course in Kosovo in 2018.

What does this observance mean to you?

Reinforces the Army’s commitment to diversity.

Anything else we should know about you?

I love being in the National Guard and trying anything new.  I hate being complacent and love to challenge myself.

 

Capt. Melissa Stenquist, Air Defense Artillery/Public Affairs, 65th Field Artillery Brigade

Date joined: October 12, 2007.

Why did you decide to join?

I wanted to serve my country and follow in the footsteps of my grandfather who was a World War II veteran. My grandfather was an Army officer and my father was a Marine, so it is part of my family history to serve. I also had a desire to get my education. The Army National Guard provided the way for me to pay for that education and for me to become the first woman in my family to receive a degree of any kind.

What has been your favorite moment or part of serving?

I do not think there is one specific moment that stands out to me, but a series of moments over time that make me smile. There have been two personally special moments that I feel exemplify my service and heritage. I was able to support my son in his desire to be a Marine and attend his boot camp graduation. Although constraints are currently in place and I will be unable to attend my daughter’s boot camp graduation, I was also able to swear my daughter into the Marines just prior to closures due to COVID-19. It has been a wonderful experience for me to support my children who have shown an eagerness to serve and add to our family’s rich heritage.

What does this observance mean to you?

To me observance means to formally celebrate and respect a special occasion.  Observing my heritage helps me recognize my personal accomplishments and the accomplishments of my family and culture. I value my heritage and the traditions of those who have come before me in the service and those who will serve long after I am gone.

 

Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Cutler, Maintenance Supervisor, 115th Maintenance Company

Date joined: April 7, 2004.

Why did you decide to join?

I joined for the adventure. I was a nursing assistant at the Veterans Nursing home. Working with all the Vets and listening to their experiences made me want to be part of something so important. I told a coworker that I would love to serve, but I do not know if I could make it. My biggest hurdle was my fear of heights. My co-worker encouraged me to try, and told me, “You will be surprised at what you can do when you need to.” He was right!

What has been your favorite moment or part of serving?

I would have to say the best part of serving is being part of something much bigger than myself, and collectively making a difference. It is too hard to pick a favorite moment because every mission has left me with something from; a new life experience, friends that are like family or a sense of accomplishment. I have supported humanitarian, emergency missions and war efforts working alongside the most amazing Soldiers. I have traveled so many places, and had more adventures than I would have ever imagined.

What does this observance mean to you?

To me this observance means inclusion. I joined under don’t ask don’t tell. For the first seven years of my career, I did not feel fully included. It was very hard always having to worry about not saying something or wording my responses to not reveal too much. This September will be the 10-year anniversary of the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell. I am so grateful for how far we have come, including everyone in our ranks. 

 

Sgt. Sewell, Anna, Vehicle Operator/ Truck Driver, 213th Forward Support Company

Why did you decide to join?

When I was a little girl, I aspired to become a part of an organization where I could grow and become a shining pillar to those around me. After doing some research, I found the U.S. Army National Guard would set me up for a great career path and assist with supporting the completion of my 4-year bachelor’s degree. Alongside that, the Army National Guard has given me the opportunity to be able to pursue a civilian career and be with those who are near and dear to me. Therefore, I made the decision to join, and I would not change it for the world.

What has been your favorite moment or part of serving?

The most cherished moment of serving is experiencing the beauty of leadership amongst the Soldiers that fall under my direction. Also working alongside my brothers and sisters in arms who I can trust and continue to push forward to always place the mission first.