Honoring our veterans—both past and present Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Abraham retires after 27 years in military

November 5, 2015

 

As Veterans Day approaches, it serves as a reminder to honor those who fight to preserve our freedoms.  Lennox is home to many soldiers—veterans of past conflicts and those still actively engaged. One local veteran gave 27 years of her life to serving her country.  It was announced  on March 13, 2015 that LTC (Lieutenant Colonel) Michelle Abraham, of Chancellor, would officially be retiring from the South Dakota Army National Guard in May. She was honored at a special retirement ceremony held in Camp Rapid, recognizing her accomplishments during 27 years in the National Guard.

The military was a natural fit for Abraham. Her dad was a fighter pilot in the Marines who did three tours of duty in Vietnam. Her grandfather was in the Navy for 30 years.

Abraham’s family felt the pride of being a military family, but they felt the anguish, too —her cousin, who was a Navy Seal, was killed in Afghanistan.

“You never think it will happen to your family, but it does,” said Abraham.

When Abraham was in 7th grade, her family moved to Mitchell, where she graduated from high school. She was awarded an Army ROTC Scholarship and attended Creighton University, graduating in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and an Accounting minor. Following graduation, she worked for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as a bank examiner. At this same time, she was also commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and was Quartermaster in the Army Reserve.

Abraham joined the South Dakota National Guard in May of 1988 as a Medical Service Corp (MSC) officer in the 730th Medical for 3rd Platoon. In November 1990, the 730th deployed for Desert Storm/Desert Shield and remained until July 1991. 

It was here that Abraham discovered that she wasn’t meant to be a bank examiner. 

“I wanted to do something different,” she said. “And the medics encouraged me to come and work in the clinic.”

Abraham found a new calling, along with a new appreciation for the United States.

To see the way women were perceived in Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Kuwait…treated as second class citizens, really struck a chord with Abraham.

“We sometimes had to abide by their rules—if we were in a vehicle, the male would have to drive. They found it odd that we wore our sleeves up and didn’t cover our faces,” said Abraham. “They perceived us as loose women.”

“You would see women with kids in back of the pickup—no matter what age they were—men would be up front. It was just different....different....different,” Abraham said, remembering the experience.

Abraham said they took care of their own soldiers, other soldiers, women and babies. 

“It was hard to see how some of them lived,” she said.

 

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