Commitment to Guard proves contagious for Veasey family
<em>(Editor's note: The following article is reprinted from the April edition of the Arkansas Minuteman).</em>
When Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Veasey joined the Arkansas National Guard in 1989, he did so to serve his country and support his family. Today, Veasey’s son, daughter and two nieces he helped raise all proudly wear the same AR NG uniform that Veasey has worn for 20 years.
Veasey’s children, son Spc. Melvin Veasey Jr., and daughter Pfc. Brittany Veasey, and nieces Sgt Terri Rowland and Pfc. Michele McCullough all belong to units stationed at Camp Robinson.
“Joining the Guard was not something I forced on them. I let them know the benefits, and because they had full capabilities to make their own decisions, I let them decide for themselves,” Veasey said.
Veasey has served in the military for over 30 years. A former Army and former Reserve member, Veasey first committed to the Guard after the local Reserve unit in his hometown of Monticello was disbanded. Though Veasey was not his family’s only military influence, he is their biggest influence. While his sister served in the Army, Veasey helped raise his nieces along with their grandmother.
“Because my mother was active duty Army, we always knew the importance of the military, but moving so regularly as a child was hard on us,” said Rowland, a medic with the 213th Medical Company and mother of two.
“Joining the Guard made it possible for me to serve my country, but still know that I am coming back home.”
Rowland joined the Guard 13 years ago with her twin sister. Though her twin is no longer active in the Guard, her sister McCullough, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and a mother of two teenagers, recently joined the Guard in October. After basic training, McCullough will be assigned to the Headquarters Section of the 233rd Regional Training Institute.
“My uncle was very encouraging and I feel like this is a good place for me to be at this time in my life. I know that the stability it brings is beneficial for me and my family,” said McCullough.
The sergeant’s son, Melvin Veasey Jr., is a signal support systems specialist in the communications section of the 111th Aviation and mirrors his father’s commitment to service.
“I think he is especially proud of me, because when I was in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” said Veasey, Jr. “I actually joined while I was still in high school and since then I have gotten immense training in maintaining radio systems, satellites and computers. It has been both fun and challenging.”
Veasey’s daughter, Pfc. Brittany Veasey, a college student at the University of Central Arkansas, enjoys the educational benefits of belonging to the Guard, but she also looks to her family for inspiration. She works in the 213th Medical Co. alongside her cousin, Rowland, who is an experienced medical professional in her civilian career as well as in the Guard.
“Being able to work with my cousin, (Rowland) in the medical section gives me someone who is experienced to go to for advice. She is a guide and a mentor to me,” said Veasey.
The family was happy to talk about how Veasey shared his experiences with them growing up; writing when he was overseas and bringing gifts from the various places he had visited. Veasey shared his commitment to Arkansas and the United States by expressing enthusiasm for work he does in the Guard and supporting his family fully.
“When I go to basic training and then to AIT, my uncle will be the one who takes care of my children until school is out in May. We are a very close-knit family,” said McCullough.
Veasey a former instructor and current Platoon Sergeant at the Regional Training Institute, believes commitment is its own reward. “The discipline you get from being in the Guard is like no other. If you practice discipline and understand the benefits, the military will take care of you. The military has taken care of us.”
When asked what their plans were for the next five years, it was evident that each family member has his or her own personal goals, but there is one constant theme: their commitment to the Arkansas National Guard.
Sgt Veasey stated, “In the next 5-6 years, I will be on my last enlistment. I will have no choice but to retire.”
Rowland said, “I will serve for at least another 6 years; I will retire when I hit 20 year mark.”
Brittany Veasey commented, “I will be working in the engineering field in some capacity. I will still be active in the Guard.”
McCullough said, “I plan on being a registered nurse and working in the human resources sector of the medical field in the civilian arena. I will still be in the Guard.”
Melvin Veasey Jr. summed up his goals by saying, “I will reenlist; I plan to retire from the Guard."