Balancing duties as a soldier and a mother of three, one of whom
is a special needs child, is just one of the challenges Army Sgt.
Shanna Rodriguez has faced in her life.
Rodriguez, a health care specialist assigned to Headquarters and
Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker
Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, entered service much
later in life than most soldiers.
Rodriguez said the spark to enlist ignited when her Marine
father shared his photo album with her when she was 12 years old,
but her plans changed when she married her high school sweetheart
and started a family. Her husband joined the Army in 2000, and she
raised their three sons during his service here and his foreign
Then when her second-eldest son turned 8 years old, he was
diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome by an Army doctor and given a
life expectancy of 12 to 20 years. Sanfilippo syndrome is
metabolism disorder that makes the body unable to properly break
down long chains of sugar molecules called glycosaminoglycans.
Army Sgt. Shanna Rodriguez a mother of three, serves as a health care specialist at Fort Carson, Colo. Her middle child suffers from a rare metabolic disorder. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William Howard
I Can’t Protect Him From It’
“To find out that your son has something that there’s no
treatment or cure, that hit us really hard,” Rodriguez said. “As a
parent, you want to protect your kids. I can’t protect him from it.
There’s nothing that I can do.”
She said she and her husband suffered through a gamut of
emotions but eventually realized the need to focus on their son’s
“He’s here and he’s healthy, and regardless of what the doctors
are telling me, he’s still my son and I’m going to treat him just
like my other children,” Rodriguez said. “Since that day, we don’t
care about the little things. We just want to give him the best
while he is here.”
Rodriguez’s husband was honorably discharged from the Army in
2007 and the family moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where she
worked as a 911 dispatcher. She said she lost her medical insurance
when the city started going bankrupt.
In early 2010, Rodriguez decided to enlist in the Army so her
husband would be able to spend time with their children and to get
medical coverage for her son.
To get her ready for joining the military, Rodriguez’s former
noncommissioned officer husband helped her drop from 220 to 176
pounds over 10 months so she would be able to meet Army enlistment
requirements. She enlisted as a health care specialist in April
2011 and was stationed here in December 2011, where she continues
to improve her fitness.
“I love the discipline and the Army organization as a whole,”
Rodriguez graduated with honors from the Fort Carson Warrior
Leader Course last month, sang the national anthem at her
graduation, and her essay, “Warrior Ethos Goes Beyond the
Battlefield,” was published in the post newspaper.
“I think that all of the commitment and dedication it took to
raise her children, coupled with her professionalism, created a
rare soldier,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jermaine Davison, her
battalion’s command sergeant major.
Plans a Career in Army Counterintelligence
Rodriguez said she plans to pursue a career in Army
counterintelligence and to enjoy every moment with her sons. Her
youngest is 12, her son with Sanfilippo syndrome is now 17, and her
eldest is 18 and currently talking with military recruiters.
“She has a very deep and profound life story that has brought
her to this point,” said Army Sgt. Matthew O’Neil, a health care
specialist with Company C, 4th BSB, 1st SBCT, 4th Infantry
Division, who worked with Rodriguez. “She’s one of the things that
is right about the Army.”
Shortly after President Barack Obama announced that he had
accepted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s resignation today, Hagel
issued a statement to the men and women of the Defense
Here is the text of the secretary’s
I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that this
morning, President Obama accepted my letter of resignation. I have
agreed to continue to serve as Secretary of Defense until my
successor is confirmed by the United States Senate.
You should know I did not make this decision lightly. But after
much discussion, the President and I agreed that now was the right
time for new leadership here at the Pentagon.
I want you to know that I am immensely proud of what we have
accomplished together. We have prepared ourselves, our Allies and
the Afghan National Security Forces for a successful transition in
Afghanistan. We have taken the fight to ISIL and, with our Iraqi
and coalition partners, have blunted the momentum of this barbaric
enemy. We have come to the aid of millions of people around the
world who have suffered the ravages of natural disaster and of
disease. We have worked tirelessly to sustain our all-volunteer
force that has given so much during 13 years of war. And we have
bolstered enduring alliances and strengthened emerging
partnerships, all the while setting in motion important reforms
that will prepare this institution for the challenges facing us in
the decades to come.
Most importantly, we have helped keep this country and our
fellow citizens safe. We have sustained the blessings of liberty
our ancestors secured and upheld the oath we took.
That work will continue. It must continue. The world is still
too dangerous, the threats too numerous, for us to lose focus. And
even as I promised the President my full support going forward, so,
too, do I promise that I will work hard to support you right up
until my last day in office. I owe you that.
There will be time later to say farewell. For now, please know
how much I respect and admire your service and that of your
families. As I gather with my own family this Thanksgiving holiday
-- a luxury I realize not all of you will enjoy -- it will be the
privilege of having worked with you these last two years for which
I will be most grateful.
Thank you for all you do for this country. God bless
More than 500 New York National Guard soldiers and airmen today
are helping people dig out from a monster snowstorm that hit
Buffalo and other areas of western New York state earlier this
National Guard members will conduct snow removal, traffic
control, and emergency medical personnel movement missions,
Soldiers have also been clearing paths at disabled residents’
group homes at the request of the Office for Persons with
Developmental Disabilities and that mission will continue. New York
Army National Guard military police have been assisting local law
enforcement officials by conducting health and wellness visits in
Boston and Clarence to check on residents.
New York Army National Guardsmen remove snow in Buffalo, N.Y., on Nov. 20. More than 500 Guard members are supporting response and recovery efforts following historic amounts of snowfall in western New York. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ray Lloyd
Sixty soldiers will continue to remove snow from the roof of the
Eden Heights Nursing Home in West Seneca.
Equipment on hand includes two large Air Guard runway clearance
snow blowers, 17 Bobcats, 2 D-8 bulldozers, 13 front end loaders,
34 dump trucks, and 50 Humvees. More equipment will be deployed as
required. Troops clearing rooftops have also been equipped with
small snow blowers.
Soldiers performing the mission are assigned to the 153rd Troop
Command and 152nd Engineer Company from Buffalo, the 827th Engineer
Company in Horseheads, the 1152nd Engineer Company from Kingston,
the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion in Rochester, the 2nd
Squadron, 101st Cavalry which has elements in Buffalo, Jamestown
and Niagara Falls, the 105th Military Police Company in Buffalo,
and the 42nd Infantry Division.
Air National Guard airmen supporting the mission are assigned to
the 107th Airlift Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, the
174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in
Syracuse, and the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard
Base in Scotia.
New York Army National Guard tractor-trailers are providing
long-haul transportation support to the New York State Department
of Homeland Support and Emergency Services and other state agencies
by transporting supplies in snow-impacted areas of the state.
A former Army Ranger who worked to aid victims of the conflict
in Syria personified altruism and compassion, in stark contrast to
the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists who murdered
him, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last night.
In a statement he issued on behalf of all men and women of the
Defense Department, Hagel extended condolences to the family of
Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known as Peter Kassig, whose beheading
was shown in a video ISIL released via social media.
"[Kassig] time and again volunteered his service during times of
war -- first as an Army Ranger in Iraq, and later as a devoted
humanitarian, providing aid to victims of the conflict in Syria,"
Hagel said. "Like his fellow veterans of the 9/11 generation, his
strong desire to continue making a difference in the world after
serving in uniform -- to continue leading a life of purpose -- is
an inspiration to us all."
The murder is one more reminder of ISIL's "ruthless barbarity,"
the secretary said. "There is no starker contrast between the
inhumanity of ISIL and the bright and generous spirit of the young
man they murdered," he added. "As we join his loved ones in
mourning his loss, we also celebrate his service, and we celebrate
his commitment -- a lifetime commitment to, as he said, 'stand
beside those who might need a helping hand.'"
Hagel called Kassig a young American who personified the values
of altruism and compassion that are "the very essence of his
adopted religion of Islam."
"This was a young man who traveled to one of the world's most
dangerous places to care for the innocent victims of a bloody
conflict, and fearlessly dedicated himself to helping those in
need," the secretary said. "There can be no greater contrast than
that between Abdul-Rahman's generosity of spirit and the pernicious
evil of ISIL."
Hagel noted that during his 13 months in captivity, Kassig's
family, the entire U.S. government and U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly from
his home state of Indiana "worked to avoid this tragic
"His mother's searing plea directed to his captors is
unforgettable," the secretary added. "The fact that her appeal went
unheeded is only further testament to the wicked inhumanity of the
ISIL terrorists who have taken her son from her. Just as we
witnessed with Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff, the sincere efforts of
so many to bring home innocent hostages have been met with blood
Hagel said the nation can draw inspiration from the "remarkable"
devotion the slain aid worker's parents, Ed and Paula Kassig, had
for their son.
"They never stopped trying to bring him home. They never gave
up," he said. "The Kassigs raised a young man who was courageous
and selfless to the core, and after seeing the way his family
fought on his behalf, it is clear those virtues define the entire
family that loved him so much."
Army Sgt. Anthony Nunez knows how to take a punch, but he can
dish them out too.
Nunez, a Patriot missile launching station operator/maintainer
assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery out of Camp
Carroll, South Korea, recently earned the title of All-Army light
welterweight boxing champ during the Army’s 2014 competition held
at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, Sept. 12 and 13.
“I can still remember my first match,” Nunez said. “I was
nervous and excited. My whole family was there to watch. And I lost
in just seconds. My little brother was crying.”
But Nunez said this didn’t prevent him from getting back into
Current All-Army light welterweight boxing champ, then-Spc. Anthony Nunez, right, delivers a right hook to Spc. Adrian McKinney during the 2013 All-Army Boxing Championships at the Barnes Field House at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, last year. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert England
“It wasn’t even an option [to quit],” he said.
Nunez was introduced to boxing while attending college in New
York. He later joined the Army with its boxing program in mind.
“As soon as I arrived to Korea, I knew I wanted to apply for
boxing camp,” Nunez said.
However, the application deadline for the training camp had
past. Again, Nunez refused to be counted out. He decided to go pro.
And after arranging his first bout and preparing professional
license paperwork, Nunez was approached by the local sports
“I was in the gym and I saw this guy with an incredible skill,
crazy old-style skill, and I asked him where he boxed,” said Carlos
Algarin, Camp Carroll’s sports director. “He told me he was about
to have his first professional fight in a Korean ring
“I convinced him to hold off on the fight to keep his amateur
status. I told him All-Army boxing could be his ticket to bigger,
better things,” Algarin said.
Algarin encouraged Nunez to submit his application for the
All-Army boxing camp, despite the deadline.
Nunez and 39 other soldiers arrived to attend the boxing camp in
2013. Only 25 soldiers remained by the start of the All-Army boxing
Competition at that level “isn't for everyone,” Nunez said. “The
workouts and regimen are really challenging and when you add the
very strict diet along with it, fatigue really comes into
Nunez attended two All-Army boxing camps, and he earned his
title in the 2014 All-Army boxing competition as the light
He continues to train. Nunez runs five days a week -- three
long-distance runs and two days of sprints. Five days a week he
conducts boxing drills and he spars at least two days out of the
week. Throughout the week Nunez performs calisthenics and
plyometric workouts, in addition to physical readiness training
with his unit.
Nunez says his goal has expanded to attend the Olympics.
“My goal has always been to go as far I can with amateur
boxing,” Nunez said. “As I continued to excel, my goal
Nunez said he will continue to push himself physically to excel
in the ring with hopes of one day standing atop a three-tiered
podium and watching the American flag rise in his honor.