The Grassbaugh family has given more than most to America. They keep giving. This is their story.
On Veteran’s Day 2007, I was at Arlington National Cemetery representing The American Legion at a solemn ceremony held at the Memorial Amphitheater. After the ceremony I walked down to Section 60, which is the section of the cemetery where many of our fallen from The Global War on Terrorism are buried.
While in Section 60 I saw a young Army officer in dress blue uniform, the usual uniform of those personnel with duty at Arlington National Cemetery. I asked the officer if she worked at the cemetery. Slowly, solemnly, she said, “My husband is buried here.” The young Army officer was then Lieutenant, now Captain, Jenna Grassbaugh. Her husband was Captain Jonathan Grassbaugh.
Jonathan Grassbaugh came from an Army family with a father who was in the Army and a brother who was already an Army surgeon. Jenna met Jonathan in college when they were both in Army ROTC.
Jonathan was a couple of years older than his future bride and when she commissioned, her first salute was to her husband. In June 2006, they were married. In July 2006, six weeks into their honeymoon, Jonathan Grassbaugh was deployed to Iraq. He was killed in April 2007. They were married a little over 300 days. He was 25 years old. She was 22.
After receiving news of her husband’s death, Lt. Grassbaugh, dropped out of law school (she was a reserve officer planning on an active duty commitment after graduation) and volunteered for active duty. She deployed to Iraq in September 2008 and later resumed her law school studies, while still on active duty, at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. Now holding the same rank as her husband, Captain Jenna Grassbaugh will graduate this week from law school and will resume more traditional military duties as a JAG Attorney with the 82nd Airborne Division; the same division Jonathan was in when he was killed.
Last year, Jenna Grassbaugh used money from her husband’s life insurance policy to establish the Jonathan D. Grassbaugh Veteran’s Project, http://www.osu.edu/giving/splashes/grassbaughveteransproject.html
The Grassbaugh Veteran’s Project utilizes the services of law school students in order to help Veterans, with legal issues, in various counties across Ohio. The services are free of charge.
Jonathan Grassbaugh gave his life for his country. Jenna Grassbaugh gave her husband for her country and she gave herself by following in his footsteps in Iraq. She will continue to honor Jonathan by serving a grateful nation and her fellow Veterans.
The Grassbaugh family has held many titles in their young age: Lieutenant, Captain, philanthropist, Gold Star Family, and others. However, their most appropriate titles might be American hero and heroine.
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