Lisa Jester

"I'm from a small town where everyone has an American flag outside of their house or knows someone who served. I wanted to go to West Point because it sounded hard. There were so many people who tried—the best & brightest—and some of them couldn't even cut it. I wanted to challenge myself and prove that I could do it. But, above all else, going to West Point meant I had an opportunity to impact the lives of people I've never met. I would read about West Point leaders and I remember thinking—wow, these people are doing something REAL! It's one thing to have a job, but it's another to do impactful work where we are putting service above self. Now that's cool.

Flash forward: I was a guns-blazing active duty officer in the Army with back-to-back deployment, two years in Korea, Afghanistan, the list goes on. I took a five year break to have children. But then I was back at it. It took me two years to get into the reserves, and when I finally got there, it was as if I never left. I was back with my people. Then I was talked into Ranger School. I was a 37-year old, female reservist—the system was not going to help me. This was a fight, every step of the way, especially since I had children. But once I got in—with the help of some incredible people by my side—it gave me the attitude of extreme gratitude. Two women graduated first, and then I followed two months after. In this first wave of women to graduate, there were only three of us, but only one mother.

A quote that I've lived by is "a ship is always safe at the shore, but that is not what it is built for." This has motivated me to stay in the line of service my entire life. To keep working towards this goal of helping others. To remind myself of my purpose in this world. I'm a lifer when it comes to putting service first, and I hope to inspire some of you to do the same."

Lisa Jaster is a Bronze Star recipient and the first female reserve soldier to graduate from Ranger School. Her service not only spans her time in the military but as a mother and a partner as well.