By Sgt. Sara Moore, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON - Six members from three generations of Tabitha White's family have served in the military, so her service in the Marine Corps is a point of pride she takes seriously.
"I consider it a privilege to be an American, and I realize we have many freedoms and liberties that other countries are not afforded," the Marine lieutenant said. "I wanted to take part in protecting these liberties and freedoms and my family and other American citizens who can't or won't serve."
White is one of 10 servicemembers selected to tell the military's story to the American public at community and business events, veterans organizations and other gatherings as part of the Defense Department's "Why We Serve" public outreach program.
White, who was raised in Meridian, Miss., joined the Marine Corps four and a half years ago and now serves as an air defense control officer in Cherry Point, N.C. She deployed to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, from January to August this year, where she served as an airspace cell coordinator and the squadron command historian.
White is currently deciding whether to stay in the military when her service contract expires next year, but she said her service has been rewarding and valuable. "All of my experiences have developed and matured me as an individual, and I am thankful for every one that I have had in the military," she said. "The highlight has been all of the people I have had the opportunity to meet."
Sharing her story with those people is what White said she likes about the Why We Serve program. She has participated in 28 speaking engagements and said she has seen that the public wants to hear personal stories of men and women serving in the military.
"I can bring my story to many children and young adults in a form that they can understand," White said, adding that her background in education helps her in this area. White holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education with an emphasis in reading and math.
The Why We Serve program began in fall 2006 and was originally the idea of then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace. Representatives from all the service branches participate in the program, which is conducted in quarterly segments. White and the other nine service members in her group constitute the fifth iteration since the program began.