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Washington National Guard families recognized during Military Family Month

By Joseph Siemandel

November is a month for family celebrations and gatherings, a time for togetherness and giving. November also provides an opportunity to honor military families, recognize their sacrifices and celebrate their service.

“We have some amazing families in the Washington National Guard,” said Carl Steele, Director of the Washington National Guard’s Joint Service Support. “Spouses and children that go above and beyond to support their Guardsman’s service. I am so happy that we get to recognize these incredible family members.”

First declared as Military Family Month in 1996 by then President Bill Clinton, every year the president of the United States signs a proclamation declaring November National Veterans & Military Families Month.

“We want to thank our military families for the tremendous contribution they make in support of our Guardsmen,” said Steele. “We know there are unique demands placed on them, and during these difficult times, they have exhibited exceptional sacrifice, resiliency and courage.”

While it is hard to thank families for everything they do for our service members, families around the world will be honored through various ceremonies and events that thank them for their commitment to our military and to our nation throughout the month.

“The least we can do is say thank you to them. And I am so happy we will be able to honor them this month,” said Steele.

This year we want to recognize the following families:

Capt. Trey Botten, Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment is recognizing his wife Brienna and his two-year old twins Waylon and Willow.

While supporting her husband, who is currently deployed to Poland as part of the NATO mission, enhanced Forward Presence – Battlegroup Poland, Brienna is balancing the significant demands of being a twin toddler mother, taking a non-existent FRG program and turning it into a highly interactive and informative platform for recurrent family communication, publication of opportunities for families, publicity of unit operations and has provided significant assistance to the family members.

Warrant Officer 1 Ben Brantly, Bravo Company, 156th Information Operations Battalion recognizes his wife Analiza, children Briella and Alden and his in-laws Alejandro and Erminia Dollente.

The Brantly family has supported WO1 Brantly’s military career for more than 14 years. Over that time, there has been many missed weekend events and limited contact during annual trainings, TDY, PCS moves. Analiza, Briella, and Alden have rolled with the punches no matter how long they had to wait.

Sgt. Chris Bullard, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment wants to recognize his wife Crystal, sons Zane and William and daughters Kendall and Gwendolyn for their support.

Currently deployed to Poland, Crystal and the kids are always supportive of Sgt. Bullard and his duties in the Guard. Crystal is always willing to help listen and help other families and spouses in their time of need. She does a coffee bar most drill weekends for the soldiers in A Co. and tries to hold monthly get-togethers for the families back home.

Capt. Josh Greene, 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team wants to recognize his wife Amy, daughter Faith and sons JJ and Luke for their continued support.

The Greene family has stayed strong through two Company Commands, a significant injury to Josh while attending Ranger school which required more than six months of recovery, multiple state activation that took Josh from his family and a deployment to Ukraine. The Greene family has stayed strong and resilient. 

1st Sgt. Daniel Massey, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment wants to recognize the support of his wife Renee, daughter Emmy and son Evan.

Renee Massey has supported her husband throughout his 20 years of military service. During that time she has endured three years of Active Duty service, several activations for state emergencies, and four overseas deployments. 1st Sgt. Massey is currently deployed to Ukraine in support of Operation Deterrence Initiative.

Renee and the kids are steadfast in supporting 1st Sgt. Massey and is willing to take on the many challenges when he is called away for duty. Their dedication and resilience during these hardships should not go unnoticed, as they continue to support the Guard through the challenges of today and can stand strong through the hardships of tomorrow.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Meisenheimer, Delta Company, 141st Brigade Support Battalion wants to thank his wife Linnette, daughters Kaitlin and Courtney and son Raymond for their continued support of his service.

Capt. Brady Plunkett, 10th Civil Support Team wants to recognize his wife Betsy and their daughters Brielle and Brooke for their continued support of his Guard career.

“My wife has been an absolute inspiration and the source of my motivation. Betsy takes care of my two daughters, one dog, and one cat while I am constantly away for CST trainings and activations.”

Betsy has also volunteered her time to build Easter egg baskets and Valentine’s Day gifts for the spouses and their children. She selflessly gives her time and energy ensuring everyone in the unit feels welcome.

Staff Sgt. Aleksandr Popov, Alpha Company, 341st Military Intelligence Battalion wants to recognize the sacrifice of his daughters Victoria and Kathrine.

“My kids are always supportive and understanding when activation happens. I have missed countless special events to include birthday parties, however my kids always support me and never got upset with me or military for it. It is amazing to have that kind of support from the loved ones.”

Capt. Brandon Sanders, 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry currently deployed to Poland as part of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Poland wants to recognize his wife Caitlin for her continued support.

Caitlin has been a part of Brandon’s military career since he joined the Army in 2005 having supported the Family Readiness Group program through multiple deployments and state activations.

Sgt. Richard Shaffer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team recognizes the support of his wife Kayla, brother Robert, aunt Jacklyn, his god child Katlynn Burrkett, his daughters Shelbie and Kylee and sons Russell, Aaron and Johnathan for their support of his service to the Guard.

The Shaffer family has been through a lot this last year with all of the activation of the Guard, trying to raise a large family and support other family members.

Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Wilson, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment is recognizing the contributions his wife Courtney has made in support of his service.

Residents of Redmond but currently stationed in Spokane since January 2019, SFC Wilson will be apart from his wife Courtney for long periods of time based on the schedule. This has been a huge challenge during the last two years with so many National Guard activations for both of them. Their selfless act to serve the state and community has carried on for 21 years, two combat tours and multiple activations.

Staff Sgt. Brooke Wright, 141st Communications Flight wants to honor her spouse Natalya and their kids Jennifer, Angelina, Jason, Veronica and Rashell.

This family embraces a “can do” attitude in so many ways. Between balancing their full house, military and civilian occupations the Wrights have stayed steadfast and resilient. Staff Sgt. Wright has been awarded outstanding enlisted performer awards and is known in her organization as someone you can count on. Natalya works for Hennessy Funeral home and is passionate about the care she gives to bereaved families. The kids all excel at supporting one another and are proud of their mom’s service to their country.