From Gold Award to Army Captain – a life serving our country

Girl Scout Alumna and Gold Award Recipeint, Jacque Ralston

As a Girl Scout you learn discipline, commitment and how to achieve long term goals. These are traits that are valuable in any job, but particularly when protecting our country is the main objective. Captain Jacqueline (Jacque) Ralston is a Gold Award Alumnae who has dedicated her life to the ultimate form of service – a life in the army. As Jacque says, “you don’t know your own strength until you do it.” Through Girl Scouts and the military, Jacque has become a better, stronger woman by pushing to her limits.

Jacque was born into a military family and a life of serving has always been the norm. Though she was the youngest and her father had retired by the time she was two, growing up in Leavenworth instilled a sense of honor and duty that the military community exudes. She joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie, following the example of her six older siblings who were Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were a family affair. Her mother was the Service Unit manager and her father was the Treasurer. Out of a total of five girls, four of them earned their Gold Awards! It’s clear the family knew the type of skills the girls were learning that they couldn’t get anywhere else.

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As with most Girl Scout Alumnae connected with the military, Jacque sees a real power in Girl Scouts for military children in particular. Though she didn’t move around much, her older siblings did as well as some of her nieces and nephews. The power of having a group where you belong in each place is a particularly special part of being a Girl Scout as a military dependent. “[Girl Scouts] gives you that common bond…when you show up in a new place it can be really overwhelming. If you already know Girl Scouting, you already have that network and you can be part of a team,” Jacque said.

 

Continuing the family tradition of “going gold,” Jacque earned her Gold Award by running a child care program during the holidays for military families at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, so parents could do holiday shopping. Unlike civilian families, military families usually don’t have extended family close by to help with childcare, so the need for help was there. Working with other Girl Scouts and friends, she was able run the program for several weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Jacque was involved with many clubs and activities in high school, but realized the value in the opportunities and skills she was learning by staying in Girl Scouts and made it a priority. As Jacque says, “it’s about your priorities, you have to know that it’s important, value the leadership and the skills you’re learning. The Gold Award itself is valuable because if you set your mind to a goal and you have to achieve it and feel that sense of accomplishment when you’re done, it shows you what you can do.”

After graduating high school, Jacque attended Creighton University, majoring in marketing and military management as well as joining the ROTC program as her entry point into the military. After college she was commissioned into the military and has since served in Hawaii, Iraq, South Carolina and Kansas. During her time in Hawaii she married her husband, Anthony, who is currently in medical school. They now have a son, Joseph, who is 18 months old.

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From November 2010 – October 2011, Jacque served at Camp Liberty in Iraq, working with the logistics unit. Their team was responsible for closing down outlying units. Her deployment was intimidating at first, being in a new country and new situation, but she knew that pushing her limits only made her stronger. There she developed a love of running and challenged herself. The ability to travel, serve her country and build a career in a community is why Jacque loves her life in the army.

As a woman in the military, Jacque feels it is a great community for women because your skills set you apart, not your gender. She’s currently a Captain, but is promotable to Major. “I’ve had some amazing female role models. Some of my first battalion commanders were women. Now that they’ve opened the military up more…it’s not about being a female, it’s about who I am. If I perform at my best, that’s what my leadership expects of me. They don’t look at me as a girl, they look at me as an officer,” Jacque said.

Jacque sees so much value in the wide range of opportunities the military offers. “[In the military] you can be an engineer, a police officer, in the medical field, communications…whatever you’re interested in, there’s probably a link in the military. It’s a great opportunity to see other places, get pushed out of your comfort zone and you meet amazing people. The comradery is my favorite part,” Jacque said.

Having spent a life in the military and in Girl Scouts, Jacque sees the missions as very similar – serve your country and help people at all times. “[The common mission of Girl Scouts and the military]…it’s in the promise ‘on my honor I will try to serve God and my country’ – that’s what we do, we serve our country. We are helping people at all times. The words may be different between the Girl Scout Promise and what we say when we’re commissioned, but the message is the same,” Jacque said.

We thank Jacque for her service both as a Girl Scout and as a member of the armed forces. What an inspiring story of leadership, dedication and strength! If you would like to share the story of an awesome Gold Award Alumnae like Jacque Ralston, comment below!

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