Lisa Jaster: Meet the First Mom With a Ranger Tab



At 37, Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster was not only one of the first women to graduate the Army’s grueling Ranger School, she was also 15 years older than most of the students who went through. Six months after getting a buzz cut and entering a course that had never had a female graduate, Jaster would become the Army’s first mom with a Ranger Tab. She talks about her new “Delete the Adjective” campaign, her obsession with strength and fitness and what she still wants to accomplish in her military career. And be sure to learn all about her Ranger School achievement at Military.com.

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Mentioned in this episode:

Female Army Rangers

Shaye Haver and Kristen Griest

Preparing for Army Ranger School

Army MOSs

Army Combat Fitness Test

U.S. Army Reserve

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Left of Boom:

Hope Hodge Seck 0:00

Welcome back to Left of Boom. I’m your host. Hope Hodge Seck. When I was born, not so terribly long ago, it was still against military policy for women not only to fight alongside men on the ground, but also to fly above combat in the air. Hundreds of military jobs, many of them key milestones on the path to a prestigious career as a general or flag officer, simply off limits to anyone with XX chromosomes. The exclusion on women flying fighter aircraft came tumbling down in 1993. But it was not until 2016, four short years ago, that all the remaining policies barring women from fields like infantry and special operations were officially done away with. Just months before that three female Army officers had done something that was once believed impossible. They had graduated from the brutally grueling Army Ranger course, earning the highly prized Ranger tab. The course officially takes 61 days to complete, but some are recycled and remain there much much longer. Today we’re talking to Lieutenant Colonel Lisa Jaster, the third woman ever to graduate Ranger School. And — as she puts it — the first mom with a Tab. She entered the course at age 37, more than a decade older than most of her fellow students, got a buzz, cut just like the men and persevered through 180 days of training, recycling twice, but never giving up. It was a massive accomplishment to finally graduate with her Ranger tab. But as you’ll hear, she still has a lot more she wants to achieve. Lisa Jaster, welcome to the show.

Lisa Jaster 1:36

It’s great to be here, Hope. Thank you.

Hope Hodge Seck 1:38

There is so much that I’m eager to talk to you about. But first, I wanted to ask you about a hashtag that you’ve been working to get circulating on social media, where you’re active on Twitter and Instagram and possibly other places. And the hashtag is, “Delete the Adjective.” So can you tell me what that means and what it’s all about?

Lisa Jaster 1:58

So I always had a pet peeve growing up when I was really young in Wisconsin, they didn’t have girls’ soccer team, there wasn’t a girls’ soccer league. So myself and one other girl and anyone who ended up ultimately playing in high school would play on boys’ teams, and I started hearing it even back then. Again, I’m talking U8 soccer. Oh, she’s fast for a girl, or she’s strong for a girl. And now I’m going, I’m 42 years old, I still do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I still work out. “Oh, you’re strong for your age, you’re good for,” and there’s always these adjectives. There’s always these qualifiers. And yes, I realized that 42 that I’m not the same as I was at 26. Or that somebody else is at 26. But I just want to be good. And I thought that these adjectives actually took away from what I was bringing to the table. It’s like saying, “well, you’re the best female Army Ranger that’s currently in this engineering building.” Okay, well, that that doesn’t say anything. that doesn’t say I’m good. And it got escalated emotionally when I went to Ranger School. “Oh, wow, I didn’t expect that from a woman. or you’re really strong for a female Ranger.” Well, the problem is, I’m not looking to be strong for a female Ranger, I’m looking to be an on par Ranger student with everyone else, all of my other peers. And if you want to judge me for something that is quality-based capability-based, that’s fine. But female or my age doesn’t make the requirements on me less. And it was kind of, my gender equality comment of, I was I went to Ranger School, just under 150 pounds, I tried really hard to pack on the weight. And there were other guys there that were 150 pounds. So when people were talking about how strong or weak I was, they were comparing me to all of these Rangers and saying, well, this female Ranger can carry her own weight. And I’d say, wait a second here. Look at all of the 150-pound class Ranger students here. And you can clump us together. But the requirement on a Ranger School student or a engineer officer or an engineer is based on the job, not to being a woman or being older. And I often use the analogy of I wouldn’t give special leeway to a doctor because they had some sort of adjective. Oh, well, you know, you’re you’re pretty smart considering how old you are. I would never say that. So don’t do it for the military and the military as a profession. And so got to the point and an actual friend of mine, Sue Fulton, a few years ago, right after Ranger School graduation, she had put “hashtag Delete the Adjective,” because I went off on one of my tirades where I said, I’m not good for female, I’m not good for my age. I’m not good for anything. I’m just good. I’m good at what I do, and that’s okay. And I don’t want it to be undermined by. You’re good if you’re in this small group, I just want to be good and value added to the Army. And that was quite a soapbox.

Hope Hodge Seck 5:08

I love it though. So it’s now been nearly five years on the dot since you graduated from Ranger School in October 2015 and became, as you put it, and I really love this, the first mom with a tab. So you were in Ranger School for 180 days, a full six months. At 37, you were up to probably 15 years older than some of the other candidates. And you’ve talked about having to take time when you could have been getting precious sleep to have long conversations at least once with fellow candidates who felt that as a woman, you shouldn’t even be there. So that’s, that’s so much. Since you now have the benefit of some time and perspective, looking back what do you remember as the most difficult part of that Ranger School journey, and at what point did you know for sure that you were going to make it?

Lisa Jaster 5:57

Literally until my husband pinned my tab. That was the first time that I felt Okay, I can’t screw this up. It is on me physically. And even then I thought, Okay, do I have to go back to the barracks and do anything so that they can’t take this away from me? Do I have a paper copy of my orders, because literally at that school, you hear horror stories about somebody finishes everything, it’s the night before graduation, they get a short pass to go visit with their family, and they come back late, and you’re recycled or kicked out or anything. So actually believing I was going to graduate, that was when I walked away with a tab on my shoulder. Up until that point, you know, the first question you asked what was kind of the worst or hardest moment, the worst and hardest moment was also my favorite and my best moment. And even at the time, I did realize it in mountains, Kris and Shaye got a Go. And I got a No-Go. So I was going to be the sole woman left behind in the mountains. And I was definitely not going to be the first female to graduate from Ranger School. At least one of them was going to make it through swamps, first-time Go. So that was really hard on me. Like, I shaved my head, left my job, left my family, there was all of this stuff. And some of the reasons that I’ve been holding on to why I did that, why I missed birthdays, all the those other, I don’t want to call them sacrifices because I don’t feel like I sacrificed. I feel like I got more than I gave. But all those other things I missed. Well, those were no longer reasons for staying and staying motivated. But it also was the best moment because who cares if I’m not the first graduate, I didn’t really go there to be the first graduate. I wasn’t going there for anyone else. I really, although I loved to say hey, I want to change the Combat Exclusion Act, I want to be part of gender integration. And part of it is since I was a little kid and listening to my dad’s stories, or listening to my friends stories at West Point, or listening to my peers, once I was active-duty Army, I wanted to go to Ranger School. And now I had a chance. And so the worst moment was by far the best moment in quite a few ways. And I ended up having three more phases of Ranger School, one more mountains and two more Florida phases. And that second trip through mountains I was really nervous about, because it was physically it’s definitely the hardest phase. But I was also really excited because every time I peaked another mountain, every time I went for a hike, I would actually say I get to be here. And it was no longer, I have to be here or, I need to do this. It became a true opportunity. I get to keep pushing through this.

Hope Hodge Seck 8:37

Well. And when he talks about Kris and Shay, obviously you’re talking about Kristin Griest and Shay Haver, who were the first two female Ranger school grads. So you started the course together?

Lisa Jaster 8:48

Yes.

Hope Hodge Seck 8:48

And at one point, you’re continuing alone. And how did that change the game going from, you know, having three women in the course together to just you doing it all?

Lisa Jaster 8:58

Well, that second trip the mountains, we marched through or road-marched through parts of the Appalachian Trail. And so anytime anybody would see that lone female or the unicorn, they would actually say something. Last summer, somebody showed me they had taken a picture of me walking through, I thank God pictures don’t have scent, I looked like I smelled bad. And our whole company was maneuvering through the woods and someone had seen the one female and they took a picture of me and they sent it to my cell phone. I met them while I was doing a blinded veteran trip. We were guiding blinded veterans. And it was really interesting because I stuck out but on the flip side, I was also able to fit in because there wasn’t as much press and media. There wasn’t as much attention to it. I was the old lady. I got to be completely who I was. As I mentioned earlier, all the pressure of trying to be one of the first was off. So it actually became a lot easier once Kris and Shaye moved on and it became a bit more fun for me, I think if you can say fun about Ranger School,

Hope Hodge Seck 10:05

You may be the only one. I don’t know. So it would be a lot for anyone, man or woman, to consider taking months out of their career, their civilian career, their family, for that kind of ordeal at that point in life, I mean, was this something that you always wanted to do, to go to Ranger School and get that tab? Was this something that at some point became a goal for you? Why was it so important? And why did you make that decision to try out for it?

Lisa Jaster 10:30

It was interesting, because I knew it wasn’t an option. So I didn’t ponder. I never thought about it. And once the opportunity came up, I didn’t even look twice at the announcement when the Army said, Oh, women, you can volunteer for this. I had my sergeant major at the time, Sgt. Maj. Robbie Payne, actually wrote me and said, “Hey, you need to do this.” And my response was “No, thank you.” Now I’ve got better things to do with my time, I actually believe I said, “I like room service.” And it was a combination of Sgt. Maj. Payne and my husband, Allen, who talked me into it. But it was with the first group of women who were getting an opportunity to go, I believe it was in September, and by the end of September, or October 1, sometime in their 2014, we had to submit our social security number and an interest: Hey, I’m Lisa Jaster. I’m a major and I’m interested in potentially going to Ranger School. And once the Army knew how many women were potentially interested, then they decided how they were going to limit, because a lot more women were interested than anybody expected. But the point that my husband made was, I was in the process of training for a Olympic lifting competition. I was crossfitting heavily, I was doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I was already ready to go. And with that short time period, pre-Ranger was in January, this was September, October time frame, we’re talking three or four months, nobody’s getting ready in those three or four months. So the people who put their name in the hat and were going to ultimately succeed, had to be physically ready, which, of course, is complicated for that school, even if you are a 22-year-old male in the prime of your life and full of testosterone. So at 37 it’s pretty hard, but physically I was there. And then you have to have a mental kitbag, you have to have all the tools required to mentally get through something like this. And I always say that having my kids. having my husband. having a full time job, gave me more mental capability to go than a lot of other people because my worst-case scenario is I come home to a great job and a loving family. So what was the drive. The drive was my husband sitting there going, you were built for this, you’re ready for this, you could do it right now, you don’t need a big prep-up. And it’s always been something that bothered you when somebody quantified or qualified you using adjectives. When somebody put you in a bucket, you never wanted to say there. So you were built for this, you should do this. And of course, he knows me best and manipulated me and got me all riled up. And next thing you know, I’m on Facebook posting, I’m going to school, you better support me. And all those fun things that happened with social media then.

Hope Hodge Seck 13:18

And your husband’s a Marine officer, right. Is there a competition there, like throughout your marriage, throughout your military careers?

Lisa Jaster 13:26

You know, one of the best things about Allen is yes, there’s of course the competition that makes things — Oh, you didn’t get up and workout today? Oh, I did. And it is daily and our kids have jumped right into it. Luckily, they’re our children. So they are just as competitive as we are. They’re more than willing to say, ‘Hey, I bet you a burpee, you can jump and touch the ceiling, or some other random bet. But the other thing that Allen does that’s really neat is, when I succeed, his response is, Oh, that’s my success, because I picked you. Like, I chose you to be my life partner. Therefore, every time you succeed, I succeed. So where other people will say, How can your husband handle it? Or doesn’t that feel weird that your wife is doing this or your husband is doing this? Every time my husband’s successful, that’s my success, because I chose to bet on the right horse and he feels the same way towards me.

Hope Hodge Seck 14:24

That’s beautiful. So I’ve seen that you’re an impressive athlete, you’re competitive in CrossFit and you’re a marathon runner, which as a fellow runner, I love, and other things as well. But what came first for you, were you drawn to the military in part because of your background and athleticism, or was it military first and that introduced you to running and lifting and all these other things?

Lisa Jaster 14:45

So my mom, out of all people and if you met my mom, she’s very physical, but she’s never been into sports per se. or anything else. At one point in time she got a gym membership and there was a weight room/ And she was single. And it was just the two of us. So we started going the right weight room together. And by the time I was in high school, I was taking a lifting class. And I had read a book in seventh grade about the first class of women at West Point. So it’s called In The Men’s House by Carol Barkalow. And it was this book that really, really intrigued me. So in seventh grade, same age my son is now, I decided I want to go West Point. So at the time, I was dancing with a local ballet company, and then I went to high school, played soccer and was a cheerleader. And I was the cheer captain for basketball, cheerleading and football, cheerleading. So I don’t know if that really led to a life of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and CrossFit and other athletics. But I did realize that it’s really neat to have somebody call you and say, ‘Hey, let’s go do X, and whatever X is, to be able to say yes, whether it’s a pickup game of basketball, or Hey, have you ever been wakesurfing, which I tried a few weeks ago. No, but because I’ve stayed active and I continue to do all these crazy sports. You know, the benefit of CrossFit as it exposes you to everything — gymnastics, weightlifting, Olympic lifting and cardio. Being exposed to all of these different things when somebody says, hey, let’s try wake skating or wakesurfing. OK, sure, why not? I have balance, I’m comfortable in the water and I’m strong enough. So I don’t know which came first, the chicken in the egg, because it’s definitely intermingled. But I had shoulder surgery six weeks ago today, and so I can’t lift one of my girlfriends called me and said okay, in November, we’re going to do an ultra trail run. So a 52K trail run, because I can’t lift weights for the next few months. Okay, sure, let’s do it, and signed up that day.

Hope Hodge Seck 16:53

We’ll be right back.

Amy Bushatz 16:57

Hey, Left of Boom fans. This is Amy Bushatz, executive editor of Military.com. If you’re looking to keep up with all the news and information you need to make your military or veteran life successful, we’ve got the perfect resource. Military.com is packed with need-to-know intel on everything U.S. military, from pay and benefit calculators to the latest from your military service to deep dives into Pentagon policy. Military.com’s reporters and editors are on top of it. Find more at Military.com. Now back to Left of Boom.

Hope Hodge Seck 17:37

How important was that athletic conditioning to your ability to finally complete Ranger School? Is it more willpower? Or how much does that just being physically capable come into play?

Lisa Jaster 17:48

I think probably the most entertaining part of my physical training leading up to Ranger School, and the long term benefit for it is at the end, it’s six months when I don’t care who you are, six months of eating MREs and not sleeping in your own bed, period, wreaks havoc on anybody’s body much less a 37-year-old female, to talk about all the adjectives, I was not in the best way. And the physical aspects that were the most helpful, and the training that was the most helpful for me in October 2015 was, if you’ve never done Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and had a large-breed human trying to choke you or break your arm while sitting on top of you, you have not suffered. So not even the athleticism required for a sport like that, but I would say now, looking back, if you can do some sort of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or wrestling, you learn how to deal with adversity in a whole new light. I literally can’t breathe. Or one of my favorite Jiu Jitsu stories is there’s a woman a little younger than me that I’ve trained with in Houston. And she’s cute and she’s pretty and she wears makeup and does her hair and she will literally murder you 15 times in a five-minute period. I cannot tell you how strong and fast and brutal that person is. So that physicality, I think the best thing I got out of all of my fitness again, looking at Hero WODs and CrossFit, looking at that .2 on a 26.2 mile run for a marathon. Like that last stage where you just want to walk and drink the Gatorade they have on the side, that part where your soul crushes by that athletic endeavor, that horrible portion of anything physical. That was the most important, after six months at Ranger School, was the mental toughness that I think you can only gain through physical feats.

Hope Hodge Seck 19:52

So what happened immediately after you earned your tab — what changed, what stayed the same in your military career? And did you have any desire to sort of find a path to actually joining the 75th Ranger Regiment, sort of what was your plan? And then what happened?

Lisa Jaster 20:07

That’s a lot, a lot of questions. So the first thing that happened is my husband was super excited. And we were going to drive back from Georgia together, he had the kids in the car we got in the car, and all I did was sleep and want to eat Dairy Queen Blizzards, so getting my nutrition and my health back was quite a challenge immediately following. The publicity, again, thanks to Kris and Shaye graduating earlier. it wasn’t as extreme as they had. But there definitely was some additional attention. And I realized that going to the grocery store with my painting clothes on might not be the best thing to do anymore. As far as changing my military career, I loved being an active-duty soldier. But active duty did not leave the right amount of time for my family life, specifically, because Allen is a really, really good Marine. And as a Marine reservist and an Army reservist, had either of us or both of us gone active duty, spending time together would be difficult, if not impossible. And I really enjoy the amount of travel and freedom I have. As a reservist, I get all the benefits of the military, but not necessarily all of the, Hey, you have to move every three years and you have to deploy every four or five years. I just had a little bit more independence. So to be part of 75th, I would have to become active-duty again. And the other thing is I absolutely love being an engineer officer. So it was interesting. I had the benefit of being invited by Mrs. Obama to go to the State of the Union in January 2016. And sit in the First Lady’s box, that’s that’s up on, I guess it’s the second tier and listen to her husband speak. And while I was there, I also had the privilege of meeting all the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I was talking to Gen. Milley, who is an extremely impressive person. You think a four-star is impressive. But then when you talk to them, and they impressed you, above and beyond the expectations you set. It’s a completely different world to meet somebody that huge of a personality. And I asked him, I had my five seconds, or my 15 minutes maybe of talking to the senior most person in the Army, and I said, Hey, sir, what can I do for the army? The Army gave me this great opportunity. I’m now here listening to the President speak, which, how many people get to actually do that? I shook his hand. What can I do for the Army since the Army is giving me so much? And he said, Come back on active duty and lead the way lead by example, maybe become an infantry officer. And I just looked at him and said, No, sir. And I remember his aide looking at me ,going, Oh, most people don’t say no, sir to Gen. Milley. And don’t say it that quickly. And I said, I love my life. I love being an engineer officer. As a field grade officer, I can’t re-branch to the infantry. I was an engineer platoon leader, I was an engineer captain, I actually had an ordnance company command, I want to be a battalion commander. And I don’t want to be an infantry battalion commander when I have no platoon commander experience. So what else can I do? And the comment he made to me, and I’m sure I’m misquoting him, but ultimately meant, Be public, and show people that there is a path, even if you don’t want to be an infantry officer, even if you don’t want to do certain things with your career, show younger generations that there is a path. And I took away from that, it’s twofold. One, there’s young male soldiers out there that I’ve never met Kris Griest or Shaye Have or Lisa Jaster. And there’s young women out there who have also not met those people. So I want young men to not qualify somebody because they’re a woman and say, Oh, well, you can’t lift a Paladin round and be field artillery, because you’re just too weak. You know, I want I want the young men to see, there’s women out there who can and there’s women out there who want to, and I want the young women to see that there’s a path. But then thirdfold is a benefit that’s come out in the last five years since my graduation, which is, there are men out there who kind of get pushed into this role, because that’s what’s accepted or expected of a young male, hey, if you’re going to join the army, you need to want to be that badass. You need to want to be that infantry, Ranger, sniper, whatever you need to want that. And if you don’t want that, you’re less of a soldier. I think by seeing that there’s women that want to do all of those hardcore activities. It also relieves some of the pressure from the men who who want to serve but they want to serve in support roles, I think, I hope and some of the feedback I’ve gotten is by women wanting to pick up the guidon with regards to combat arms. There are men that want to be combat service support that feel better about it, because It’s no longer expected.

Hope Hodge Seck 25:03

That is a really interesting perspective, and a point that I’ve not heard many people raise that is really neat. Following kind of on that theme — So you’ve talked in the past about at least one conversation you had at Ranger School. And when you come across men in the Army or in the military, or really anywhere who say, you know, women don’t belong here, maybe even if you could manage to do the job, you’re not adding anything to combat effectiveness. Why are we doing this social experiment? I’ve heard all these things before. What is your response? And how do you try to change their perspective?

Lisa Jaster 25:35

On a one on one conversation? It’s very easy, because I can say, Why shouldn’t I? And I can have a really, really good discussion where people will say, women are weaker, okay, let’s go lift something. And, who am I weaker than? Or what is the standard? And you can have that back and forth, which I have found those individual conversations, ten times out of ten, I have yet to walk away from somebody where they said, Well, you shouldn’t do it. At the minimum, a one-on-one conversation, I get, hey, my wife, my mother, my sister, my daughter, I don’t want them doing this. But you’re okay. So they’ll say it’s not okay for women to want to do this. But I get it, you’re different. And when I hear that, I think, Well, okay, so I’m different. But I bet there’s four or five other people that you probably know, that are also different. And once you plant that seed, almost everyone will kind of jump in and understand that in a second here, women doing what’s traditionally considered a male job. Isn’t that weird? And I try really hard not to get offended, and short of people calling me names, I usually don’t get offended. I do get frustrated when people say we cheated somehow. And the only reason why is I get a lot of, well, I knew a guy and he knew a guy who said that he was there when you were there, and that you guys got special advantage. Okay, give me a name. Because if you ask any of my classmates that are friends with me on social media, or were there when I was there, they would say things like, we hated being graded when the women were getting graded, because there was so much additional attention, that the standards were upheld. And there was no leeway for failure, not that the standards are upheld all of the time. But there was such a microscope on the women that everybody was watching, and everybody in America was watching. So there was no ability to maybe make a mistake behind the scenes. Because when you have twice as many eyes on you, there’s twice as many people seeing where you’re messing up. And that’s the only time I get truly offended. But the rest of the time I really enjoy, and still enjoy, getting in discussions and debates about gender equality and opportunity. One of the best parts about the discussion goes back to the delete the adjective top, it shouldn’t be, if the United States is 51% women, the Army shouldn’t be 51% women, and then therefore the infantry should be 51% women. That’s not equality. Equality is, what are the standards? Why did the standards exist? And can these men or women, old or young, meet those standards? And that’s actually one of the reasons I’m so excited about the new Army combat fitness test. I know there’s a lot of discussion and debate about it. But for once, we’re going to say, Okay, well, if you’re in the National Guard as a reservists now, I have a lot of soldiers that are captains, but they’re a lot older than I was when I was a captain or their national guard, and they’re NCOs. But they’re a lot older than when I was active duty. An E-6 might be because the rules are slightly different. And the job of an E-6, squad leader in an infantry platoon is no different whether you’re 35 or 25. So I like that the PT test is no longer gender-normed or age-normed, because it really is can you do the job? It’s not about the attributes. It’s literally about, Are you the best surgeon for this operation?

Hope Hodge Seck 29:10

And the ACFT, I’m glad you brought that up, because I did want to ask you about it. I mean, one of the big concerns I’ve heard is that people in the Reserve specifically won’t be able to train the way they need to to these pretty demanding standards, and arguably rightly demanding for these jobs. How have you been training up? I know the timelines have shifted a little bit, and how have you been encouraging your soldiers to get ready for this test?

Lisa Jaster 29:35

You know, it’s hard because we as reservists don’t always live close to a military training facility. Having access to a hex bar, or a drag sled is not as easy. There are alternate things you can do to become capable, but I’m on several different Facebook, private chat groups, whether it’s women, whether it’s soldiers, whether it’s engineers, and so sub groups. But the one thing I’ve seen is everybody’s working out more. So, yes, it’ll be hard to max certain events without buying the equipment or having access to a gym that has the equipment. But the amount of fitness improvements that the threat of the ACFT has led to within the Army means our military is heading in the right direction. We are a fighting force, I got to listen to a speech recently, the pre-command course by some of the Army level staff, and it was, people first, winning matters. Winning does matter. And no matter how we want to capture what our military does support and defend includes, we have to have a threat of violence. And you can’t have a threat of violence without having some level of physicality. So therefore, the mere fact that a lot of people are starting to work out more because they want to stay in the Army means that we have the right people in the Army and we’re headed in the right direction.

Hope Hodge Seck 31:06

That’s really good perspective. So in the military right now, it’s amazing to me that there are so many historical firsts, left and right that women are still achieving, because so much of this is so new, the Navy just celebrated its first black female fighter pilot, there’s some adjectives for you, and first female Green Beret. And so as trailblazers, they’re often faced with these decisions about how they’ll engage with the public, if they want their names and faces disclosed, and how that will become part of their identity and military career. In a way you’re sort of spotlighted. whether you want it or not. So what advice would you give to a soldier or any US service member who finds herself in that position, about how to negotiate all that and stay true to yourself and your goals, and just who you want to be in your military career?

Lisa Jaster 31:54

I think the added attention, whether wanted or not, is going to be there. So what’s key is sit with the PAO, learn how to respond to questions. One of the things I learned early is have your own personal agenda, always have your own personal agenda. And mine is the Delete the Adjective, I’m known because of my adjective. If I was a male 37-year-old, I might have had one newspaper article in my hometown newspaper written about me. And that’s it. As a female 37-year-old, I had quite a few more than one article written about me. And so my adjective has given me a voice. And I either use that voice for good, or I get negative publicity. But that publicity isn’t going away. So I needed to sit down and the Army PAOs sat me down and talk me through this, I need to have a message. And I need to have something that I care about and that I want out there. And whether or not you want to be, people are going to look up to you. And people are going to ask you what you think about the most random stuff. Hey, what kind of food should I eat? I don’t know, I’ve never met you. But they’ll ask, and understanding that that’s coming anyways, just like you prepare for any military training, just like you prepare for deployment, prepare for the fact that people are going to ask you weird questions, uncomfortable questions, and you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable, but the type of person that led you to be the first, that same brain is the same brain that they’re trying to get information out of. And think about it, whether it’s doubters and haters, or fans, they’re picking your brain, because for whatever reason, you matter to them. And you can walk away with nothing else, but taking it as a compliment that your life decisions matter to somebody else, whether it’s positive or negative, you matter to them. So then, now it’s your choice. How do you finish? And so yes, sometimes I would love to just be a battalion commander and not be the Ranger School graduate. But I am and that’s in there, which, of course, for me actually helps. Because after shoulder surgery, there would have been a lot easier to just take a few months off and relax. But I got on Facebook and saw comments about my weaknesses. And shoulder surgery was on Friday, Wednesday, I’m back on the spin bike going, Okay, well, this is all I can do. But I’m going to spin for 30 minutes and probably die, but I got to get back at it immediately. So you know, as somebody who might be a trailblazer, one of the things to do is to use that energy towards holding yourself up to a higher standard.

Hope Hodge Seck 34:44

And finally, are there still targets or goals in your military career that you have left to achieve? Not that you have anything to prove, but is there anything sort of on your bulletin board going forward?

Unknown Speaker 34:55

In my military career, for sure, I am not done. I am I’m just over the 15-year mark, I’m in battalion command, I want to have a successful battalion command, I definitely want to give my soldiers what they deserve. And as a reservist, I have soldiers and civilians. So I get I have the pleasure of being able to, to live in both worlds somewhat. But future military aspirations, I want to see what I can do. And again, it’s about being an influencer. And how can I positively influence people, if I’ve got people coming up to me saying, Hey, I’m, I’m going to stay in the Army, or I’m going to push harder, or I’m going to change MOSs, or I’m going to be really, really good at my job. But I don’t ever want to develop like I want to be right here. I want to develop in this area, but I don’t necessarily want to grow. I’m not trying to climb any sort of ladder, but I want to be the best I can be at whatever my MOS, whatever my skill is. And I’m getting out in four, but I’m going to take that to the civilian world and be the best I can and my technical field there. Anytime I do that, even if I can do it once. That is success for me. So to make a short story long, yes, I still have goals. I’m not exactly sure what they are, you know, I have a lot left in the tank. And I’m in a great place right now, because I did just have shoulder surgery. I feel like I’m physically that I’m a complete mess. I feel like I’m kind of a, not to say a low point, but I’m definitely had to hit reset. Okay, well, with my new situation, how awesome can I get and how quickly or slowly can I get there? And how can I influence people on my way? And how can I be the old lady in the time as the battalion commander, and still getting in scoring in the 500 plus on the 600 point ACFT after two shoulder surgeries, a hip surgery and being 42 years old. So how can I lead from the front and that’s that’s kind of my goal every day. So it’s definitely my goal in the military.

Hope Hodge Seck 36:56

Well, Lisa Jaster, this has been a delight. This has been so inspiring. Thank you for your time.

Lisa Jaster 37:02

Thank you Hope. Appreciate it.

Hope Hodge Seck 37:09

Thanks for joining us here once again, at Left of Boom. We have some incredibly exciting episodes coming up. We’re diving deep into the food science and military rations with one of the Army’s head MRE developers. And we’re going to sit down with one of the senior leaders in the Space Force and learn how you create military culture from the ground up and what it means exactly to be a warfighter in space. I promise you do not want to miss these. You can email me at Podcast@military.com. I read every message and will respond personally. And you can get subscribed to Left of Boom wherever you get your podcasts. And remember to stay connected to all the news and information that matters in the military community every day at Military.com.

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