As we move into the 16th year of the Global War on Terrorism, it is no secret that not only have our Special Forces “Green Beret” soldiers carried a very heavy burden but their families have too -a burden that no one in American history has experienced for this length of time. With our unique experiences, unique situations and obstacles have been presented. The Green Beret Foundation has always taken an unconventional and holistic approach to the care of those that serve in the US Army Special Forces Regiment. Part of that care includes ensuring the Green Beret has a strong support system back home.
We have realized over many years that just as “special” as Green Berets are so are their wives, moms, daughters and sisters. They share similar characteristics with their Green Berets more often than not and are just as committed to the Special Forces’ mission as their Green Beret. They are required to operate alone 90% of the time their Green Berets are on active duty. They will find themselves acting as the chief operating officer for the family and ultimately for the Green Beret when his commitments call him to focus outward from the family and directly on his mission. Through our personal experience and our work at the Foundation, we have observed a common theme in these women. Generally speaking, they are steadfast, tenacious, exemplary, extraordinary, loyal, magnanimous, admirable and genuine.
We also have come to learn that our families are distinct because of the mere nature of the mission their Green Berets carry out. This requires these men to be in over 110 countries at any given time whether in peace time or in war and when they are not deployed they are in training preparing for the next deployment. This operational tempo results in a disproportionately high rate of casualties (60% of all SOF casualties); extended training even when they are not deployed out of the continental US; and an overall heavier strain on the family unity. Their families are required to also bear the burden of a high level of social confidentiality that a common citizen generally would not be able to empathize with. Because of these special circumstances, many times, they are isolated from not only civilians but also the conventional military at large.
This requires these women to lean heavily on their peers for support. This is why the Steel Mags sorority was founded.
Jen Paquette, GBF’s Executive Director and the Founder of the Steel Mags, recognized a gap in support of the Green Beret spouses when she went through her own rehabilitation process of her Green Beret’s traumatic injury. She, with the help of the original group of wounded SOF spouses, gave life to the sorority. It has since grown and flourished to include not only wounded spouses but all females in the Green Beret community that demonstrate the traits of the Steel Mags sorority. Because of the tenacity of this original group and the energy of our new members we continue to give legs to what was merely an idea Jen had while she sat at her husband’s bedside at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.