by Geoff Fox
This past Saturday, Tiffany Hendershot was promoted to first lieutenant in the West Virginia Army National Guard during a swearing in ceremony in front of the War Memorial in Hancock’s Widmeyer Park.
Her husband, Andrew, her children, and parents, joined Hendershot at the memorial.
Hendershot has been a member of the 167th West Virginia Air National Guard for over 17 years as an aircraft maintenance non-destructive inspector on C130s, C5s, and C17s; served in Afghanistan as a first sergeant of her unit and awarded the Global War on Terrorism medal.
On Saturday, June 16, Hendershot was promoted to a commissioned officer as first lieutenant. Her two children and husband placed her first lieutenant bars on her uniform’s shoulders.
As the bars were attached, Hendershot wiped tears away from her eyes.
Captain Ian Lechliter, of the Pennsylvania Army Guard, gave Hendershot the National Guard Oath of Office.
Hendershot also carried on a military tradition that has roots dating back to the British Army, where a newly commissioned officer presents a silver dollar to the first enlisted soldier to salute them.
New officers were assigned an enlisted adviser who showed them the ropes, taught regimental history as well as the ins and outs of the military profession.
Grateful lieutenants would show their heartfelt gratitude by informally compensating the soldier a small sum of money.
The silver dollar is the only coin given in exchange for the first salute by tradition. It may represent the respect found in ones newly earned rank and position.
In carrying out that tradition, Hendershot received her first salute from her father, Air Force Master Sergeant Philip Creek, who has served beside his daughter for 17 years. Creek, who will be retiring in December, also received the silver dollar.
After the swearing in ceremony, those in attendance went to the pavilion for refreshments.
Hendershot was motivated to leave the Air Guard and join the Army Guard came from a direct commission as a Clinical Social Worker.
“The last 17 years I have been enlisted and this was an opportunity to become commissioned,” she said.
She said she likes being in the National Guard because they are citizen soldiers.
Being a citizen soldier mean they can work civilian jobs and live with their families but still one weekend a month and 15 days each year be with the Guard.
“We are on call for state emergencies and can be called up if our nation needs us,” Hendershot said. “We are fully trained and ready when needed.”
Hendershot said First Lieutenant is the rank she carries, but social work is her career. Social workers, she said, have a deep desire to help others help themselves.
They do that by providing clinical counseling, crisis intervention, disaster relief, critical event debriefing, teaching and training.
“We enhance unit readiness and the emotional well-being of military members and their family members,” she said.
Hendershot said the War Memorial in Widmeyer Park was ideal for its central location. Hendershot’s father grew up in Hancock, she grew up in Berkeley Springs, and now lives in Warfordsburg,
The park’s memorial also has the name of her father, Philip Creek, and uncle, Matthew Creek, listed for their service during the Persian Gulf.
Hendershot is the director of the Martinsbiurg Initiative, an innovative partnership that has developed a model solution to the problem of opiate addiction and abuse spearheaded by the Martinsburg Police Department and Berkeley County Schools.
Hendershot she has been working with the West Virginia National Guard to collaborate with the Martinsburg Initiative.
“If we can call in the National Guard for other state emergencies why not to help children affected by the drug epidemic?” she said.
Hendershot said she’s looking forward to using her new position to build more bridges between schools and the National Guard.