News: From pajamas to uniform
Story by Spc. Hannah Fulcher
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. - After seven years on active duty and two deployments, human intelligence analyst and single mother Staff Sgt. Shanda Sellars prepares to deploy once again to Afghanistan.
“I have served almost 10 years, I have a least 10 more to go, and I absolutely love it,” says Sellars. “I tell my son, that someone has to find the bad guys, and he understands.”
Leaving the love of her life in the care of her mom and sister back home in Georgia while she deploys, Sellars says she is very blessed to have that kind of support back home.
“My mom and I started talking about the opportunity I had to deploy this year, and she understands that this is a great career opportunity for me and is happy to help.”
Deploying as the senior intelligence analyst, Sellars was handpicked by Maj. Chris Burton and Master Sgt. Harley Hendrix, the officer and noncommissioned officer in charge of the Intelligence section.
“It was a no-brainer when assembling the team,” says Burton. “She deployed with us (1-108th Cavalry Battalion) in 2009-10 to Afghanistan, so I knew how she worked and I knew she was familiar with the area and situation that we will be dealing with over there. Plus her expertise is unmatchable; she has been doing this since she was active duty, has two deployments under her belt as an intelligence analyst, and teaches it Monday through Friday at the school house on Clay National Guard Training Center. Furthermore, I do not think there is anyone better to help develop the junior soldiers in our section.”
Brendan, Sellars' 6-year-old son, says he knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up, a soldier, just like mommy.
“When I come home from training, Brendan always asks me what I did while I was away from him,” explains Sellars. “For example, when we completed Pre-mobilization Training Assistance Element (PTAE), I got home and he asked what we did, and I told him we threw hand grenades and low crawled through mud and tunnels, and he got down on his belly and we low crawled all through the house. And he said when he grew up he wanted to be a soldier, just like me, and help find the bad guys too.”
Although the uniform has taken Sellars away from home two different times, it has also allowed her to be available to her son more than a civilian job would.
“Brendan’s school has Mystery Reader Wednesday, and the school house is very supportive of our families and us being there for them,” explains Sellars. “So most Wednesdays I got to go and read, it was only 30 minutes, but I got to see my son every week during my lunch break. I am very thankful that up at Regional Training Institute (RTI) we are like family and that they are so supportive of their soldiers. That is one of the reasons I have stayed with them for over three years.”
At home, it is in either uniform by day or pajamas by night. After the deployment, Sellars said she wanted to adopt a playmate for Brendan. “He is the love of my life, and I think I want to add another set of PJs to our uniform and PJ lifestyle.”