Like so many who join the military, LaBeet first became inspired to serve through someone close to her. In this case, that person was her brother-in-law, who was in the U.S. Navy. “It was such a pride to see him serving the country, just proud of what he was fighting for and what he believed in,” she remembers. “I wanted to be part of something greater, something bigger than me.” She held onto her dream until she graduated from high school when she enlisted in the U.S. Army. It was only a few months later, after finishing training, that she deployed as a truck driver to Afghanistan in 2012 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Very quickly, LaBeet experienced the scary reality of deploying to a war zone. Her unit was attacked the first night they arrived, and Labeet remembers “jumping out of bed, to hearing rockets flying…wondering if I’m going to make it back home to family.” She was worried for her two sons, who were young at the time.
LaBeet served as an Ammunition Stock Control Specialist, where she delivered munitions, food, water, and other supplies to soldiers at neighboring campsites. Her logistics skills helped the Army save millions of dollars through cost avoidance efforts. Aside from the daily challenges of keeping the military cost-efficient, LaBeet struggled internally with women’s unequal expectations in the armed forces. “Being a woman in the military meant I had to work twice as hard to be seen,” she said. “I always felt like I had to be in top fit shape, I had to know my regulation in and out, I always had to set a higher standard for myself and operate at that highest standard to be taken seriously.”
When LaBeet returned home on leave, it was difficult to get used to not being on the battlefield. She experienced nightmares and said she was “trying to cope with the things I’d seen during the tour, still reaching for my weapon when it wasn’t there when I didn’t need to do that anymore.” Despite all she had endured, LaBeet reenlisted and was sent to Fort Shafter, HI. It was there she met her future husband, Carl, an Army Veteran of nine years himself.
In 2018, LaBeet left the Army after serving eight years, ending her military career as a Sergeant. Following her departure from the Army, she created a new path for herself by becoming a cosmetologist and business owner. LaBeet lives in Jacksonville, FL, with her husband and two sons. She enjoys running her hairstyling business and making her clients feel beautiful.
NFM Lending is proud to donate $2,500 to Code of Vets on behalf of LaBeet. NFM looks forward to the opportunity to continue to honor military and Veterans through the NFM Salute initiative.
Full Transcript of Video Interview is Below:
– Welcome to our NFM Salute for the month of April, 2021. I’m your host, Greg Sher. We’re delighted to welcome in army Veteran, Marion LaBeet, who joins us from Jacksonville, Florida, an eight year Veteran of the army, and she has quite a story to tell. Marion, thank you for being with us on NFM TV. And thank you so much for your service.
– Greg, thank you for having me.
– I understand that you made the determination at a very young age to serve your country. Tell us about that.
– So I grew up watching my brother-in-law serve in the Navy and he still serves today, has almost 30 years in service and it was such a pride to see him, serving the country, just proud of what he was fighting for and what he believed in. And I wanted to be a part of something greater, something bigger than me.
– And you went right out of high school?
– I did.
– And you remember the first time you stepped into an office and spoke to somebody about serving your country at such a young age?
– They actually didn’t take me seriously. They didn’t think I looked like what the typical person would look like going in to join the army. But I had my mind made up about it. The process actually went pretty smoothly. I was gone within a few months.
– And so you were deployed in 2012. Tell us what you were deployed as and what you did there.
– I deployed as a truck driver in the campaign Operation Enduring Freedom.
– So in the capacity of truck driver, during wartime in a combat zone, what are some of the duties that you had to do?
– We were transporting goods throughout the country, whatever soldiers were needing at different camp sites, water, food supplies, we brought it to them.
– So take us back to 2012. How hostile of a combat zone was it?
– Upon arrival, we were attacked the first night. So jumping up out of bed, to hearing rockets flying, scary, wondering if I’m gonna make it back home to family.
– You left behind two young children, Kamron and Kynadi. And I know that weighed heavily on you even before those rockets were sent overhead. The choice to leave your children behind, how difficult was that?
– Very difficult as they were too young to understand why mommy wasn’t home, Kamron suffered a lot during that time. He just didn’t understand. All he ever would say is mommy, “You left me.”
– So, I’m curious to know, as a woman in the military, what that experience was, and did that create any unique challenges for you?
– It most definitely did create a lot of challenges. Being a woman in the military, you have to work twice as hard to be seen. So I always felt like I had to be in top fit shape, I had to know my regulation in and out, I always had to set a higher standard for myself and operate at that high standard in order to be taken seriously.
– So tell us about your return back to the United States. Where did you go? And when did you get out of the military?
– That was a very, very difficult time trying to cope with the things that I had seen during the tour, still reaching for my weapon when it wasn’t there, when I didn’t need to do that anymore. You know, nightmares, definitely went through some counseling to cope with those things. Immediately after getting back it was time for me to re-enlist which I did extend my time. And I was headed out to Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
– And you spent some time there where you ended up meeting another soldier, who you later married.
– I met Carl while in Hawaii, and he served as a culinary specialist at Schofield Barracks where he had been in… Carl served for nine years. And it was fireworks from the start .
– Well, I wanna fast forward to your story and to Code Of Vets, which is the nonprofit organization that you have chosen our $2,500 donation to go towards. I know that they showed up for you in a very big way. This organization has really impressed me so much, led by Gretchen Smith, who’s a former Veteran herself. She and her organization donated $2.7 million to Veterans in crisis. And you were one of those Veterans.
– Yeah, so when the pandemic started I was doing very well in my business, Angel Hair Company, which I provide cranial prosthesis for patients that have underlying medical conditions that result in hair loss. People couldn’t afford to do those things at that time. So it hit an all time low. Carl and I relied on savings, really, really needed help. And they were a lifesaver. They did give me $1,800 to catch up on some bills and try to get ahead. Carl and I decided to take a little bit of that and pay it forward donating one of the wigs from the company to a Vet in need who’s suffering.
– And for those of you that wanna follow Code of Vets, I recommend you go to codeofvets.com and see some of the great work that they do. This is an up and coming organization. They are fully transparent. They’ve got all their financials up on their website for everyone to see. Only 2% of the donations go towards operating costs. 98% of the funds donated to this organization, go to Veterans in need. And there are so many of them out there. And I wanna tell you, even though we’re donating $2,500 to Code of Vets, I’m gonna make a personal gesture to you right now from me and my family to yours. I’m hitting the send button on a PayPal contribution from me to you for a thousand dollars.
– Wow, Greg
– Thank you for your service.
– Thank you, thank you.
– Army Veteran, Marion LaBeet, thank you so much, we really appreciate your time and sharing your story with us here on NFM TV.
– Thank you Greg.
– That’s our April NFM Salute. I’m Greg Sher. We’ll talk to you next time.