It's rare for a woman to enlist in the army at age 39. It's even more rare for her to enlist along side of her teenage daughter.
When Megan Schlotthauer, a senior at American High School in Fremont, California, began considering the military as an option, her mother was dead set against it. Mom Lisa Altoon, a postal carrier, worried that her daughter would end up in Iraq. But when Army Recruiter Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Dean convinced Lisa that it was unlikely Megan would ever get sent off to a war zone but rather remain a reservist and a computer information technology expert, all the talk about the military started to seep into Lisa's mind too. The 39-year-old began to see enlisting as a rare opportunity to not only defy age and test herself, but to support her daughter in a whole new way.
"I'm a mom," she said. "This will give me a chance to protect her and keep an eye on her." Lisa wins financially too -- she'll collect $20,000 from an enlistment bonus.
After nine weeks of basic training and one week of orientation, the mother of three will go to Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga., for 22 weeks of training in computer technology. Megan will follow her to the same places, but she won't leave until Aug. 10, 2009 (after she turns 18). After they complete their training, they will return to the Bay Area and report for duty with their Reserve units.
Lisa and Megan joined what is called the "buddy system," meaning they are supposed to be sent to the same reserve unit after they finish their training. They will spend one weekend a month in uniform and one two-week period on active duty every year for the duration of their enlistments.
While it is unlikely they will get deployed overseas, there is always a chance they could find themselves fighting in a war. But Lisa knows what she's gotten herself into.
"If it's meant for me to go, then that's what's going to happen," she says. "I just take my faith with me and pray that God will take good care of me."
Today is Veteran's Day when we honor all military veterans who have served our country in both war and peacetime. Take a moment to thank a Vet.