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National Guard service strengthens West Virginia family

By Edwin Wriston | West Virginia National Guard | Nov. 29, 2018

WILLIAMSTOWN, W. Va. - The goodbyes for now. The long, mournful last hugs and kisses before watching your husband or wife, son or daughter, mom or dad leave for deployment, training or other call to duty. Restless nights and anxious days waiting for the all too brief phone call or video message session or the counting down of days until they return.

Such is the life of the military family.

Service in the armed forces can be as hard on families as it is on the service member. Yet, those same hardships can help to build stronger relationships. At least according to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jeffrey “Scott” Lohr, a C-12 aviator assigned to Detachment 28 Operational Support Airlift Command in Williamstown, West Virginia.

Lohr and his son Nicholas are both members of the West Virginia Army National Guard who have built a strong bond in their family through military service, sacrifice and resilience.

Over his 26 years of service, serving both in the active duty Air Force and Army National Guard, Lohr and his family, which includes his wife Vicki Lynn and daughter Leslie, have endured five deployments: Afghanistan in 2003, 2009, and 2017, Africa in 2013, and Colombia in 2015. That time away culminates in missing each other, major life events and the always-inevitable coming-home jitters.

“With the first deployment there is a lot of uncertainty about everything, even what to expect when you return and how your family will react when they see you,” Lohr said thinking back to his first deployment away from his family. “All the uncertainty was gone when I saw them. They [my children] were very young at the time and they were very excited to see me.”

But even through multiple deployments, pre-deployment training cycles, and the normal day-to-day and monthly duties of a Guard member, which can be trying and stressful, Lohr credits his service with strengthening his family. And his family, of course, with strengthening him.

“I think that my military service has provided a great role model for my children,” he said. “They have been taught from an early age to never give up and do their best at everything. It has definitely strengthened my role as a husband. I have been blessed to have a very supportive wife who has been with me virtually since the day I joined the military. I believe that a supportive family is the number one key to a successful career in the military.”

His wife Vicki agrees. “The military has helped us raise our family to be what it is today. We would not where we without my husband’s military service and I think it has strengthened our family by making us more resilient. We are proud to stand by him as he serves our country.”

Thanks to his father’s career in aviation and many trips to visit the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, Nicholas was inspired beyond measure.

“Growing up all I saw was military aviation and it became all I wanted to be part of as a kid. I remember being taken to work with dad and seeing the helicopters and just being amazed,” he said.

When he was only a junior in high school, Nicholas decided to join the military himself and to follow in his father’s footsteps. Now 23 years old, U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Lohr proudly serves as a Black Hawk crew chief with Company C, 1/150th Assault Battalion in Wheeling.

In early November, the Lohr family was able to celebrate a military milestone, as Scott was promoted to the rank of chief warrant officer 5, the highest rank achievable in the warrant officer corps. Nicholas had the honor of pinning on his father’s new rank and being the first to salute him as the West Virginia Army National Guard’s newest chief warrant officer 5.

“I am so proud to stand with my dad not only as his son, but as a fellow Soldier. Our family loves and supports him, and now he and they support me as well. Dad couldn’t do it without us, and I can’t do it without him and mom and Leslie either,” Nicholas said underscoring their strong family bond and connection in their whole family approach to military service.

“While military service isn’t for everyone, our family has been blessed with a lot of opportunities due to our service,” Chief Lohr said. “And it’s impossible to overstate the exceptional positive impact my family has had on me throughout my career. At the end of the day nothing is more important than family.”