Army, Radio Communications Technical Specialist
Data Acquisition Manager, NCI Information Systems
Army veteran Debra Blessing remembers her proudest moment of service: when her son said that he wanted to serve.
“He went into the water,” Blessing said with a chuckle. “Enlisted in the Navy, worked as a sonar technician on nuclear subs. It was a special moment, knowing that my husband and I inspired him to serve his country.”
Blessing’s husband also served in the Army, which is how they met. They were both stationed in Jackson, S.C. They later served in multiple Army locations, including Fort Gordon, Ga., and almost three years in Germany. They also served in Arizona’s Fort Huachuca before later relocating to southern Illinois.
Blessing remembers her decision to join the Army with fondness. “I graduated high school in a little town in Wyoming, and I was not overly interested in college,” she said. “I remember wanting to see more of the world, and the Army has definitely helped with that.”
Blessing was stationed in Germany, but not at an Army base.
“It was …. a different experience,” she said, hesitant. “We were on a remote site, in a little German town. We were doing radio communications, related to national security.” She stopped, chuckled. “Sorry, can’t talk about it. But trust me, it was very different from my little town in Wyoming.”
Blessing remembers the time after service as a big change. “After our time with military service, we moved to Illinois, and I got a degree, and a job in a medical office,” she said. “One thing I would have done differently – the Army offered so many opportunities to learn different skills, and I wish I would have taken them up on that. I could have learned many new trades, but I didn’t.”
But with her newly acquired knowledge in medical offices, she ended up working on a contract related to Medicare, and she found it very enjoyable. “It dealt with physician claims, and I worked there for 20 years, while my husband was at National Guard,” she said.
When her husband retired from Guard duty, Blessing was hired by a company that had NCI’s current CERT contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That company was acquired by NCI, and she was happy to stay connected to CERT: “I loved the work, and I continue to love the work. It is very fulfilling,” Blessing explained.
Thinking back to her time in the Army, she said, “I learned a lot about leadership, partnership, and patience. You can’t push a mountain halfway for the mountain to move. It doesn’t happen on your time, but on the time that is pre-determined, and understanding that helps to work through each day, and each project.”
For Blessing, “Celebrating Military Families Appreciation Month is important, because it recognizes and honors the unique sacrifices and challenges that military families have. It’s a common thread so many families share, and it’s important to recognize the sacrifice that millions of Americans make so that our country is safe, and our freedoms are intact.”