By David Vergun March 23, 2017
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — Many in the Army can identify a turning point in their lives when service to country became deep and personal. For many, that moment was Sept. 11, 2001.
For Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, the moment came earlier in her Army career, during the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nov. 9, 1989. Frost spoke Wednesday at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association-sponsored “Women in DOD: Agents of Change” conference in Washington, D.C.
At first, Frost said, she wasn’t really set on a career in the service. She joined the Army to travel, to Europe in particular. Thanks to her service, she did indeed get to travel to Europe.
When the Berlin Wall came down, she said, she was able to watch families who had been separated by the wall finally reunited.
“That was the turning point for me — when it just hit me that this is what it’s all about: service,” she said. “I thought that there will be challenging times ahead, and I want to be part of it.”
Frost is currently the director of the cyber directorate within the Army’s G-3/5/7. The most rewarding part of her 30-year-Army career, she said, has been the people; the people she has led, the people she has learned from, and the people who have challenged her.
Her husband, she said, is also a general officer, which over the years has made for some challenging times, particularly when it came to raising their daughter. When their daughter was two, she and her husband both deployed. Her parents took care of the girl for two years while they were gone.
The takeaway, she said, is that it’s possible for both parents to have an Army career, but it’s incumbent upon Soldiers in such a situation to seek help. For her, she said, she was lucky to have her parents around. She said Soldiers shouldn’t be shy about asking for help.
With regard to her current job, she said there are challenges and a lot of moving parts to integrating cyber, electronic warfare and military intelligence, as well as to affecting that culture of change. But the sooner it’s done, the greater the benefits will be for the Soldiers on the front lines.
Frost is due to get her second star in three days.
Air Force Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, said her father was drafted and served in World War II, though he never talked much about his service.
The person who most influenced her the most, she said, was her grandmother, a nurse, born about 1890. Her grandmother practiced nursing nearly her entire life, making house calls right up until her death at age 92. She’d talk and talk about nursing to Jamieson, but she never shared the heroic part of the story.
After her death, the family was going through her personal effects and found a citation of gallantry from the French government, Jamieson said. Unbeknownst to anyone, during World War I, she had served in the Red Cross as a nurse.
Evidently, her work as a Red Cross nurse took her into the trenches with the U.S. Marine Corps, where the fighting was the thickest. She was, Jamieson realized, a national hero.
For Jamieson, that was the first turning point, she said. The second came during Desert Storm when one of Jamieson’s colleagues, a pilot, was shot down in a situation that could have been avoided had he received intelligence of an enemy threat in the area.
As an intelligence officer, Jamieson said, that incident affected her deeply and shaped her behavior. Even today, she gets emotional talking about it. From that day forward, she strived to ensure that on her watch, no one else would die from a failure of intelligence.
(Follow David Vergun on Twitter: @vergunARNEWS)