Lisa McKean

Spouse of Army Lt. Col. William J. McKean

Multinational Force Iraq

Baghdad, Iraq

Lisa McKean didn’t have to be counting the days (roughly 29) when her husband, Army Lt. Col. William McKean comes home from yet another deployment in June. After supporting his career for 23 years, she could have asked him to take his retirement, or volunteer for an assignment in a non-combat zone.

“Instead, she did the bravest thing I ever saw anyone do,” wrote her husband on the nomination form. “She said ‘I do not want you to go to the war in Iraq, but I know you want to go and feel you need to go. If you decide to go, I will support you 100-percent like I always have.’ I honestly thought after all these years of countless sacrifices and hardships, that I had already asked more than I should have of her and the family and I was afraid to ask any more of them. But showing more courage than anyone I know, she did not even wait for me to ask, but volunteered to make another sacrifice and endure more hardships for me, for the Army, for our country. But that is her … thinking about and putting all others before her.”

The six nomination forms were packed with tales of how Lisa soldiered through countless deployments while raising their four children: Elizabeth, 21, Clint, 19, a senior at Great Bridge High School; Pierce, 15, a freshman at Great Bridge High School, and Virginia Lynn, 13, a sixth grader at Great Bridge Middle School.

“She never notified her husband in the field of any problem back home for 24 years,” her husband wrote. “She has handled everything that would overwhelm both parents of a normal family. Emergencies such as her oldest daughter’s reconstructive knee surgery and rehabilitation and her youngest son’s broken wrist. She is totally self-sufficient and handles home and car repairs and a myriad other tasks. She does not require help from others, but instead provides help to others.”

The family has lived in Chesapeake longer than anywhere else.

“If I had known we were going to be here so long, I would have put new carpet down,” she joked.

Lisa learned to enjoy moving around the country.

“You know wherever you live; it’s not going to be forever, so you can live anywhere for two years, even in a bad spot.”

That includes the middle of the Mohave Desert at the National Training Center. “That was a great place to live,” she said.

She suggests to new military spouses to remain in base housing whenever they get the opportunity.

“Even if it’s not the greatest, you will be so much more connected to the other spouses, and that helps out a lot, especially when you have children,” Lisa said. “When you live on base, you make friends quicker because everybody is in the same boat.”

She misses her husband not being in a unit now that he is attached to the Joint Forces Staff College and now the Multinational Force Iraq.

“It’s harder to be involved when he’s not in a unit,” Lisa explained. “When you don’t live on base, you don’t know the soldiers as well.”

No matter what the holiday, though, Lisa always had a full table by inviting soldiers who had no family to join them.

“It might not have always been just family, but it was a family-type atmosphere, Lisa said. “I have missed that.