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    For this West Pointer, the Sky is the Limit

    For this West Pointer, the Sky is the Limit

    Photo By Billie Suttles | The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School 72nd Graduate Course student Maj....... read more read more



    Story by Jane Lee 

    The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – “I decided to join the Army after my brother deployed with the Marine Corps,” said The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School 72nd Graduate Course student Maj. Pamela Gaulin. “I was in 6th grade English class when the planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. I knew there was a war going on, but until my brother joined the military it felt very distant.”

    Knowing she wanted to serve too, the Rochester, Minnesota native charted a course that would eventually take her to West Point. Thankfully for the JAG Corps, Gaulin was undeterred by the mistaken high school guidance counselor who brazenly told her she would never get into a service academy. Not only did she get into the Naval Academy, but she also got into the United States Military Academy.

    “While I was at West Point, I was on the skydiving team. I spent spring break one year jumping out of planes with the French Foreign Legion,” said Gaulin. “I was very blessed and got to do a lot of really fun things.”

    Apparently Gaulin and her husband Chris share the same troubling tendency of hurtling themselves out of perfectly good airplanes. They met on the skydiving team and started dating when she was a sophomore and he was a senior. “He got back from his first deployment in April 2012, I graduated on May 26, and we got married May 27.”

    Gaulin’s idea of fun also included going to Airborne School at Fort Moore, even after amassing over 220 jumps through her time at the academy. “I went between my second and third years. Airborne school was scarier than civilian skydiving, because I had to trust someone else to pack my parachute and you jump from a much lower altitude, which gives you less time to adjust if there is a problem.”

    Interning at the Supreme Court one summer and supporting the annual International Human Rights Law Competition in San Remo, Italy as a cadet only solidified Gaulin’s high school ambitions of becoming a lawyer. Lucky for Gaulin, the Army offers a program to fully cover the cost of law school for active-duty service members.

    “I learned about the Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP) and decided that was the route to take,” said Gaulin. “I wanted to gain experience as an Army officer, then use that experience as an attorney to better advise my future commanders.

    “I applied to Harvard, UCLA, Boston University, and University of Minnesota. The first letter I got back was the rejection letter from University of Minnesota, so I was nervous waiting to hear back from the other law schools.”

    Minnesota’s loss ended up Harvard’s gain. “I deferred my acceptance for Harvard so I could deploy with my [1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Light Infantry] unit and work with my husband’s timeline. I applied for FLEP the next year and got the acceptance notification on Christmas Eve, while I was deployed [in Iraq].”

    The geo-bachelorette relied on Army camaraderie to help her through some tough times her first year at Cambridge. “We were trying to start a family at the time, and I miscarried on my first day of orientation at law school,” said Gaulin. “Being separated from my husband, I found a lot of support in the military veteran community there.

    “My two best friends from my class were an Army and an Air Force veteran. And one of my best friends from law school is another Army FLEP who is now in the graduate course with me.”

    These battle buddies and the unyielding support provided by the Army proved vital during Gaulin’s pregnancy with her son, Daniel. An anatomy scan at five months showed their son had spina bifida. The condition occurs when the spinal cord and the surrounding vertebrae do not develop properly, causing a gap in the spine. The spinal defect results in damage to the baby’s nervous system and can cause serious cognitive and physical disabilities. Doctors diagnosed Daniel with myeloschisis, the most severe type.

    “I was placed on medical TDY in Philadelphia so I could have open fetal surgery at 24.5 weeks gestation,” said Gaulin. “I was required to stay on very strict bed rest following surgery and had to stay within 30 minutes of the hospital until delivery due to potential complications.”

    The Army foot the entire bill, including the move from her current duty station of Ft. Drum to the Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center in Pennsylvania, lodging, meals and a non-medical attendant to assist Gaulin around the clock. Gaulin delivered at just shy of 37 weeks.

    “Daniel had a 17-day stay in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia before we were discharged,” said Gaulin. “Since then, Daniel has had anywhere from 5-9 weekly appointments, and has had four surgeries with hospital stays between 5-21 days.

    “Tricare has covered everything. And my unit has paid for my travel to accompany him to appointments and surgeries. We also had a great experience funding medical equipment and cannot imagine dealing with all of it had we not been in the Army.”

    Daniel, who is now 3 years old, is the jokester of the family and keeps his unicorn and glitter obsessed older sister Ainsley on her toes with all his questions.

    After graduating in May, Gaulin will become a legal advisor for Northern Command and NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), at Peterson Air Force Base. The assignment in Colorado Springs not only allows Gaulin to apply her burgeoning National Security Law knowledge, but also to reunite with her husband. “My family is super excited for lots of hiking and snow sports once we get out there!”



    Date Taken: 01.30.2024
    Date Posted: 01.31.2024 11:54
    Story ID: 462736

    Web Views: 249
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