April 28, 2015 –
FORT KNOX, Ky.--The daughter of this combat veteran and Army Reserve officer was given a few options when it came to living with her parents after graduating from high school with no immediate plans of attending college.
Lt. Col. Andreas McGhee, and his wife, Lisa, had pride bestowed on their family with her decision.
Her exact words were “Sign me up,” said Andreas McGhee.
“Of course I naturally took her up on the challenge,” he said.
With those three words, 1st Lt. Andria Kimberly became the third generation in the McGhee family to carry on the Army tradition.
Kimberly, a married mother of two children, is an Army Reservist serving as a nurse with the 801st Combat Support Hospital, Indianapolis, Ind. Lt. Col. McGhee, who will retire in May 2016 with more than 30 years of military service, is the Equal Opportunity Program Manager for the Army Reserve 84th Training Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Andreas’ late father, Jaymon A. McGhee, was drafted in the U.S. Army in 1956 as an infantryman and retired in 1976 as a sergeant first class. He served in the Vietnam War with the 4th Infantry Division on Pleiku Air Base from 1968 until 1969.
“My daughter is simply amazing and her Army experience helped mold her to become this self-reliant and confident person who has this can do attitude,” said Andreas McGhee, who joined the Army as a medium helicopter repairman. “Her accomplishments speak for themselves but mostly I have the honor of serving with her and being her father.”
McGhee, who is the equal employment specialist, Equal Employment Office, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Indianapolis, was referring to Kimberly being a former registered nurse and an Army nurse.
“I feel beyond proud to serve with my father,” said Kimberly, who is a clinical liaison for Kindred Hospital in the southern Indiana region.
Kimberly’s time in the Army Reserve began the next day after she told her parents to “Sign me up.”
“I attended Army functions when I was younger but I did not fully understand the sacrifice my father was making on a daily basis,” said Kimberly.
“I asked my friend; retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Judith Hults, to escort Andria to the Military Entrance Processing Station in Indianapolis,” said Andreas.
A few hours later, I was called and asked to witness Kimberly’s swearing in ceremony, said Andreas. Andreas’ father joined him in the ceremony.
“We were like wow, we couldn’t believe it,” said Andreas of he and his father’s feelings at the ceremony.
“I thought that Kimberly would join the active duty Army but she told me she wanted to join the Reserve,” said Andreas.
Kimberly told him later the reason she chose the Reserve was to assist in paying her tuition assistance to attend Marian University, Indianapolis, he said.
The reason that she chose the Military Occupational Specialty of Human Resources Specialist was because Andreas said it was her best choice, said Kimberly.
She attended basic training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Andreas attended Kimberly’s graduation ceremony unannounced.
“My pride and tears welled up when I saw her standing there during her final formation at basic training,” said McGhee, an Operation Iraqi Freedom and Desert Storm veteran. “My daughter was truly transformed into a new being who took ownership of her actions and also took pride in the things she accomplished thereafter.”
“I presented Kimberly’s drill sergeants with my challenge coins,” said Andreas McGhee, who has more than 27 years as a Reserve officer.
“Because they were instrumental in reshaping her physically and mentally and turned her into a fine soldier,” said McGhee.
Kimberly was able to hone these skills as an enlisted soldier for the next six years. At the same time, she became a certified nursing assistant at a local hospital.
“After being with the military for six years, it became a part of who I was,” she said.
Being a CNA on the other hand was not “a part of what she was.”
“After working hard for little pay, I decided to go back to school to become a registered nurse,” said Kimberly.
“I decided to accept a direct commission after I received my bachelors of science in nursing degree from Marian University,” said Kimberly. “I have always loved connecting with people and I enjoy learning about the human anatomy. Nursing is a great career with dynamic opportunities.”
Kimberly’s direct commission also made her eligible for a $50,000 student loan repayment program. Joining the Reserve had originally paid a portion of her tuition assistance.
Marian University is an “expensive” private school and the student loan repayment program greatly assisted, she said.
The best military experience I had was my Basic Officers Leadership Course in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, said Kimberly.
“There we learned how our medical experience and job would function in a war-time setting,” said Kimberly. “It was there that I felt extremely proud of my decision to join the medical team.”
My background has mostly been as an intensive care unit nurse but I “thoroughly” enjoyed working in ICU but I wanted to take a break from it, said Kimberly.
Now, she is responsible for marketing to hospitals and physicians and assessing patients who are requiring short-term rehabilitation.
If there ever is a need for her to tell the world about family pride, she probably could set the example.
“I could not ask for a more genuine father,” said Kimberly who will mark her third year as a Reserve officer in May. “I am humbled that God would bless me with such a great dad.”