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Moms in the Military

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It's rare for a woman to enlist in the army at age 40. It's even more rare for her to enlist alongside her teenage daughter.

military women

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 would 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 40-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.

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 per month in uniform, and one two-week period on active duty every year for the duration of their enlistments.

military women

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.

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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen November 11, 2009, 5:29 AM

This article PISSES ME OFF!! 20,000 bonus, really, for the freaking reserves? What about my husband, he certainly didn’t get a 20,000 bonus and HE DOES DEPLOY. I also think it’s sad that the recruiters are telling people this kind of crap. Why are we letting people in the military and GIVING them boatloads of money and then not deploying them? Why can’t these people go over there and relieve the ones who are doing 18month deployments.

Megan November 11, 2009, 5:44 AM

I agree! That has got to be a typo or something my husband doesn’t even come close to seeing that kind of bonus. I too think anyone who enlist should automatically have to go to Iraq so others will have some kind of relief. we wonder why our men are coming home with all types of mental issues. This story alone could give the the type of anger out in Iraq that could result in disaster. I know this is not the norm so I wonder why she is getting $20,000 if that’s even true.

PFC Lyons, USMC November 11, 2009, 9:41 AM

This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. I’m in the United States Marine Corps and I wouldn’t even begin to dream of my mother enlisting to “keep an eye on me”. The military is not a club, it’s not a group on Facebook— it’s a just that: A MILITARY. And I don’t think that on a deployment to Afghanistan her mom is going to stand up in the middle of a firefight and ask them nicely to “please not shoot her daughter, she’s the most important thing in the world to me”. Her daughter is obviously old enough to consider and/or make the decision about enlisting, she shouldn’t need her mom to do something as drastic as enlist beside her to “protect” her. I could care less about the $20,000 enlistment bonus—that’s half the reason people join the military anyway. But for a misguided mother to think that she can protect her daughter from a deployment? That just absolutely blows my mind.

Anonymous November 11, 2009, 1:47 PM

uh…i think they will get deployed. i have heard this story too many times with friends in the military. ” i joined because they told me i wouldnt have to go to war..but now i am going.” Cmon..i think the mom and daughter are being a little naive thinking they will not get deployed when there is a desperate need for soldiers out there right now. And i also think its a little absurd that he mom is joining to watch over her…she is an adult and will need to be on her own sometime..the military is a great place for her to mature and be on her own…not have mommy follow her. Although it is honorable of her mom to go that far..but it is also seemingly enabling. i wish them both the best of luck and pray for their safety..along with the many many other soldiers out there.

Lisa November 22, 2009, 2:05 PM

For your information Kristen, we as Reservists DO deploy and relieve YOUR active duty spouses…so please do be sure you have all of your facts straight before you go off half cocked and start making negative comments about any military personnel. I have enlisted to put my life on the line so you don’t have to. Be thankful. By the way, I am married to an active duty soldier who is deploying next year, so try and be a little kind, ok? I am the person they wrote about in the above article, and I have been on active duty orders for the past year although still a reservist. I will be deploying at some point. We all get our turn. So, in essence, I am earning that bonus. So is my daughter, who will be joining her thousands of comrades at some point. We are one team, one fight. Best to you!

Lisa November 22, 2009, 2:17 PM

Oh yeah… to the rest of you who commented on here… I failed to read the rest of the comments before writing my initial response. This article was written in October 2008 - when my daughter and I first enlisted in the Army! We have both been in for over a year now and this article is well outdated. Furthermore, some of the statements are taken out of context from a newspaper article written by a reporter in San Francisco, CA. Again, not totally accurate. So, before all of you start lambasting an enlisted soldier, regardless of gender or age, be sure you all know what you are talking about. Be sure you know all of the facts, because you could very well be ignorant in certain instances and it doesn’t make any one of you look to smart at all. I am proud to serve my country and have no fear in being deployed. I’m well prepared to do so, as is my daughter. If you have anything more to say, the only words you should be typing after this should be “THANK YOU FOR SERVING”.

Megan Schlotthauer November 23, 2009, 8:21 AM

I see that everyone has a little something to say about my mother and I enlisting. I knew I had a chance of getting deployed. Yes i joined for the money. My mom came along with the package. I may not necessarily have agreed with the decision but its life and my mother can do what she wants. She is smart enough to know she can’t protect me forever. So keep your heartless comments to yourself.Have a Great Day. Rock Force! -MEGAN

Army Dad November 23, 2009, 9:49 AM

Instead of getting on their case about they get money or not, think about what they and the others are doing to serve this great country despite the innept leaders we have running this country. Twenty grand is a small total for putting your life on the line. I personally think that military should be getting paid 100k a year (depending on their MOS). While Megan and Lisa are mother and daughter, you have to also understand that Megan has 2 younger brothers (one being special needs) and a father that worries for her every night, prays for her non-stop. She may get depolyed she may not get deployed, but for the armchair quarterbacks that sit on the sidelines and lob their misinformed gernades at the great men and women of this country, sign up for yourself and put your attitude where your mouth is……by the way, Megan is my daughter and Lisa is my ex-wife…..for whom I am ever so proud of!…..HOOAH!

Nikki January 5, 2010, 6:26 PM


Lisa Altoon Reynolds May 4, 2011, 12:52 AM

So, it doesn’t appear anyone has had further negative feedback, which is good, considering that I (the mother in the original article) am indeed deploying next year. Furthermore, my husband is currently deployed so, as near as I can tell we are continuing to serve this great country of ours and we’re doing it with great pride.

To all the earlier people who commented and to any others out there who have never served, don’t hate on us for getting a bonus. It’s the very least we should receive for volunteering to protect the citizens of the United States of America. Military life isn’t easy but we remain diligent and proud. Try being away from your families for a year at a time and risking your life each and every day. Some of us are brave enough to do the job while others insult and and mock in their cowardice.

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