Mother, daughter make National Guard service a family affair

Monday, March 15, 2010
Spc. Jennifer Boettcher adjusts her mother's uniform collar. Staff Sgt. Kari Boettcher and her daughter both recently volunteered for deployment.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- Spc. Jennifer Boettcher has made a habit of following in her mother's footsteps.

She has worked at the family bar and grill her mother owns for years. Then -- just like mom -- she joined the Missouri National Guard. So when her mother, Staff Sgt. Kari Boettcher, recently volunteered for deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, she immediately knew she wanted to ask to be deployed, too.

"We really didn't even have a conversation about it," said Spc. Boettcher. "She said, 'I'm volunteering, do you want to?' I knew right away that I wanted to do it. I like serving my country and my mom has been deployed before, but I never have. It was sort of like, 'Why not?'"

The two volunteered at the Guard's official Web site,, and now are going through Soldier Readiness Processing and have been put on a waiting list. Staff Sgt. Boettcher is the medic noncommissioned officer for the 1140th Engineer Battalion and Spc. Boettcher is a cook with the 1140th's Forward Support Company.

With low-density military occupation specialties, the likelihood that they will actually be activated for overseas deployment is better than average, said Maj. Scot Ratcliff, the 1140th's administrative officer. Those slots are hard to fill, especially the medic slot, and there is a high demand for both in deployed units, he said.

"They're both very important to our mission here and would be important in a deployed unit," Ratcliff said. "What they're doing is very noble. It's why we put on the uniform, to mobilize and deploy."

Whether they deploy or not, the mother and daughter are a fine example of a family with a strong military connection and sense of duty, Ratcliff said, adding that the battalion has many such families that have several members serving in the National Guard.

"They're the true meaning of the home-town Guard," Ratcliff said.

March is Women's History Month and both Boettchers said they realized that women have made significant impact to the military over the years. Others have paved the way so well, they both said, that they consider themselves Soldiers and not "female Soldiers."

"I have never been treated any differently," Staff Sgt. Boettcher said. "I've ridden in tanks, I went out with the infantry, and I've done it all. We have a lot of females in this unit in leadership positions. And I don't think a guy should have to work harder because I can't do it. I think we should be able to do our jobs and pull our own weight."

Spc. Boettcher has been around the military her whole life. She and her sister were born while her parents -- both full-time U.S. Army Soldiers at the time -- were serving overseas in Schweinfurt, Germany. She lived the first few years of her life on military bases, first in Germany and then at Fort Stewart, Ga. Her parents also had been sent to Kuwait in 1994 as part of the first Persian Gulf War.

After her parents got out of the Army after more than a decade of military service and moved back home to Altenburg, Boettcher watched as her mother joined the Missouri National Guard nearly four years ago at age 43.

"I sort of thought I was done with the military," Staff Sgt. Boettcher said. "But I ran into a guy who was in the National Guard and he said I should maybe join, so I did. I love it. Now, I've been to Iraq with the Guard, work a job I really like in the Guard and watched my daughter join. My other daughter is thinking about joining. It's been pretty neat."

The elder Boettcher said she had a good experience while she was deployed with the 735th Quartermaster Force Providers in 2008 and she believes her daughter would, too.

"I like going and seeing different places," Staff Sgt. Boettcher said. "I've been to Iraq, if they send me to Afghanistan that would be all right because I've never been there. They can send me wherever they want to."

Spc. Boettcher has already impressed her superiors as a young Soldier who -- with a little experience -- could go a long way in the National Guard. Sgt. 1st Class Michael Busby is Spc. Boettcher's section chief.

"She has a good work ethic," Busby said. "You don't have to tell her a lot of times to do something. She has initiative, which is good for a Soldier. She's not a seasoned veteran yet, but at the same time, she's not a typical teen-ager. There's no reason she couldn't eventually rise to the rank of E-7 without having to leave the unit."

For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit


For more information about this release, please contact Scott Moyers at 573-339-6264 or at

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