BOUNTIFUL — For the first time in eight years, Pam Hansen will be together with her sons as they mark a military service milestone this weekend: Her fourth son will be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army.
Spencer Hansen will be the third son Pam Hansen will see graduate Saturday from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. He will be commissioned as a second lieutenant and assigned to Fort Lewis, Wash.
Her son Jason Hansen, who graduated from West Point, is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., and has been on three deployments in the past decade. First Lt. Andrew Hansen, also a West Point graduate, is stationed in Fort Hood, Texas.
A fourth son, Capt. Erik Hansen, who is stationed at Fort Lee in Virginia, graduated from the ROTC program at New Mexico Military Institute.
Her eldest, Michael, has disabilities and is eager to join his mother and see all his siblings for the graduation.
Life in the military started with her son Jason, the second eldest. “He’d been telling me since preschool he was going to be a soldier,” she said.
When he joined the military she wasn’t surprised. But she was surprised when her other sons did the same.
“After my older brother joined, seeing him, how it changed him, how it made him a better person, I really wanted to be part of that type of organization,” Erik Hansen said.
Pam Hansen says military life has been good for her sons. “Yes, there have been long deployments. Yes, we’re at war, it’s terrible. But the military has taken care of the boys and their families.”
“We’re all grateful we’ve found something we enjoy doing,” Erik Hansen said.
When her sons are deployed — six times so far to Iraq and Afghanistan — she doesn’t let the stress of the situation get to her. “You have to go on and just live your life,” she said, “and realize that they’ve been trained and they’re doing their job.”
With numerous deployments, getting the family together is hard. The four brothers are stationed all over the country and there was always one or more of the brothers deployed during weddings, funerals or summer vacations. One of her sons was deployed for 17 months. Sometimes one of them does get to come home for special occasions. Jason Hansen came home in November 2003 to see the birth of his baby.
So having all the brothers together on May 26 will be a wonderful occasion, she said. “Graduation at West Point is an amazing time, an emotional time,” she said, with pride and joy in her voice. “To see everyone together, it’s family photo time.”
And pride is something the commissioned officers share with their mother. “I feel a great deal of pride doing my job and serving this nation,” Erik Hansen said. “All our families make sacrifices. There are inherent risks in what we do, but we chose to do it, and we’re proud of it and we’ll continue to do it.”
While Pam Hansen is understandably proud of her sons, she doesn't take credit for their success.
“I remember telling my sons years ago I wouldn’t accept responsibility for their mistakes and so I try not to accept credit for their accomplishments,” she said. “They’ve worked hard.”
Though her sons are making big sacrifices, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s all I know,” she said. “And don’t question them leading honorable lives. Do not question that. Ever.”