Face of Defense: Three Sisters Serve in Different Guard Units


When Massachusetts National Guard Army Maj. Molly Alesch spoke at her March 17 promotion ceremony here, she recalled that her father, too, had served in the Army.

Iowa Army National Guard Maj. Jill Finkel, left, pins a new gold leaf rank insignia on Massachusetts Army National Guard Maj. Molly Alesch during her promotion ceremony at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., March 17, 2017. Finkel and Alesch are sisters and their youngest sister, Army Spc. Kristen Alesch, who serves in the Tennessee National Guard, also attended the promotion ceremony. Massachusetts Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes
Iowa Army National Guard Maj. Jill Finkel, left, pins a new gold leaf rank insignia on Massachusetts Army National Guard Maj. Molly Alesch during her promotion ceremony at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., March 17, 2017. Finkel and Alesch are sisters and their youngest sister, Army Spc. Kristen Alesch, who serves in the Tennessee National Guard, also attended the promotion ceremony. Massachusetts Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes
Iowa Army National Guard Maj. Jill Finkel, left, pins a new gold leaf rank insignia on Massachusetts Army National Guard Maj. Molly Alesch during her promotion ceremony at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., March 17, 2017. Finkel and Alesch are sisters and their youngest sister, Army Spc. Kristen Alesch, who serves in the Tennessee National Guard, also attended the promotion ceremony. Massachusetts Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes
Serving Sisters
Iowa Army National Guard Maj. Jill Finkel, left, pins a new gold leaf rank insignia on Massachusetts Army National Guard Maj. Molly Alesch during her promotion ceremony at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., March 17, 2017. Finkel and Alesch are sisters and their youngest sister, Army Spc. Kristen Alesch, who serves in the Tennessee National Guard, also attended the promotion ceremony. Massachusetts Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes
Photo By: Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes
VIRIN: 170328-Z-YG824-001

However, when it came to her inspiration to serve she turned to the audience, where her sister, Army Maj. Jill Finkel of the Iowa National Guard, beamed with pride. Later she playfully described a call with her youngest sister, who asked how her ceremony was "going to go down."

Army Spc. Kristen Alesch, who serves in the Tennessee National Guard, was curious as she hasn't seen many officer promotions ceremonies yet in her military career.

Proud Father

"It's an honor to me to have the three of them serve. It gives me a sense of pride, I readily put that out there … brag about it, I guess," said their father, Thomas Alesch.

"I think that every person, male or female, should serve their country," he said.

He said the first of his daughters to join the service was Finkel, his eldest daughter.

"I needed help from somewhere; I was without a lot of resources and it turned out that the Army was the place for me," she said. She found that help after enlisting in the Iowa National Guard, then went on to earn her law degree from Drake University, and now works full time as a federally recognized Judge Advocate General officer in the Iowa Guard's Active Guard Reserve program.

Molly joined Finkel at Drake University, where she saw her sister wearing the uniform and paying her own way through college. She was inspired to join the National Guard's Simultaneous Membership Program, a program that allowed her to be a member of the Iowa National Guard while completing her bachelor's degree.

"When Molly told me she was going to do it, I was all for it," Finkel said.

After this, Molly completed a three-year tour on active duty, and then took a break in service.

Desire to Serve

But, she said, civilian life didn't quite suit her.

"When I went to grad school, I was with people who were freaking out about assignments and completing grad school, in general," Molly said. "I'm thinking that is nothing. People are dying overseas; I'm used to being with soldiers who have real stuff to worry about. I missed it." She found a home in the Massachusetts National Guard, first as an education officer and now as the state's Sexual Assault and Response Prevention coordinator.

Finkel served in Afghanistan from 2010-2011. Molly served in Iraq from 2005-2006.

When their "baby sister" Kristen graduated from basic training, Molly spoke about attending the ceremony with pride, but not without concern. She is the first of the three to have joined after 9/11.

"She is an 88M [Motor Transport Operator], and I know, because I am a logistics officer, that a lot of 88M's are on the road and they're always in the action," Molly said.

Kristen, being a decade younger than her older sisters, hasn't yet deployed. But Jill is confident that it won't be an issue for the youngest of these sisters in service.

"It's a little bit blown out of proportion, with women in the military, ‘Can they be in war? can they not?’ It's a person issue, not a gender issue," Finkel said. "It really shouldn't be surprising that three strong women want to serve their country."