Lamontagnes see daughter off to Army basic training
She put her child on a plane to fly off to an Army camp for basic training, a symbolic act that took her daughter from her care and gave that responsibility to base commanders and drill sergeants. It will mean 10 weeks of near-isolation for Keene resident Brittany Lamontagne and anxiety for her parents, Ovide and Bettie Lamontagne of Manchester.
'We are just like thousands of families around the country, the state, that do this every day,' said Bettie, whose voice carried a mix of love, pride and anxiety for her 23-year-old daughter. 'I have to put it in perspective, we know where she is.'
Other families, she noted, send their sons and daughters off to a war zone for nine months.
Back in New Hampshire, her father, Manchester lawyer Ovide Lamontagne, is engaged in a more gentlemanly battle, one of politics, where he is seeking the post of governor. During a debate last week, he mentioned that Brittany had enlisted in the New Hampshire Army National Guard and was heading off for basic training.
Lamontagne signed up for eight years and plans to be trained as a flight medic. She volunteers as an EMT in the town of Winchester, so she has a background in emergency medicine, her parents said.
A Trinity High School graduate, Brittany lived her teenage years and grew into adulthood in a country at war. Bettie said her daughter dislikes war and has a compassionate heart, which drove her to sign up.
'She looks at this more as an interest in helping the people that are hurt,' Bettie said. Were he to be elected governor, Ovide said he would never make a decision on Guard deployment that favored his daughter, nor would she want special treatment. In fact, Brittany was proud to have been sworn in before anyone at the Guard offices realized she was his daughter, he said.
Ovide said it came as a surprise when his daughter said she was going to sign up for the Guard. Yet he added she is strong-willed and he gives her a lot of credit for taking the initiative. He never served in the military, and his father's military hitch lasted for two years as a dentist between the Korean and Vietnam wars.
'We've been at war a very long time. We can't forget that people are still signing up and being deployed. It's a great testament to a whole group of young people,' Bettie said.
Two weeks ago, the Lamontagnes gathered with family members to have a dinner that was both an early birthday for Brittany and an early Thanksgiving for the family. Then she returned to Keene to prepare for a 10-week absence, and the Lamontagnes returned to campaign mode.
Then a week ago, media across the state reported the deaths of two military members with New Hampshire connections. One, Capt. Shawn Hogan, died in a training accident in Kentucky.
'It reminds me I'm justified in worrying,' Ovide said. 'I'm not a worrywart, but I'm justified in feeling protective.'