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NEWS | May 11, 2023

A Soldier’s Experience with Motherhood

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Allayah Klein Joint Task Force-Red Hill

The second Sunday of May is dedicated to honoring mothers who have given birth, raised, and made numerous sacrifices for their children. For mothers in uniform like Col. Dominique Cummings, Training Director at Joint Task Force-Red Hill (JTF-RH), she’s no stranger to the sacrifices made by mothers when they deploy.

Cummings’ career began over 30 years ago when she enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1991. While a specialist, she learned she was pregnant with her son. With motherhood on the horizon, her son was the catalyst in deciding to pursue an officer’s commission.

“He was my inspiration,” said Cummings. “My main concern was teaching him he could do and be anything. I learned how to do that from the military.”

Cummings was 6 months pregnant when she walked across the stage to get her associate degree. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she attended the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School, where she earned her commission as second lieutenant. She went on to pursue her master’s degree. As a single mother, and newly-commissioned officer, she would sometimes bring her son to class if childcare wasn’t available.

“I enjoy the challenge of the military because it helps me build resilience,” said Cummings. “I also want my children to build resilience through my experiences. But it hasn’t always been easy.”

In 2005, Cummings' family grew to include her husband and stepdaughter. A few years later, they welcomed their daughter to complete their family.

While a captain and a mother of three, she became aware of the comments of her peers who doubted her ability to be both a mother and a Soldier.

“The negative stigma surrounding motherhood in the military at the time is my least favorite part,” said Cummings. “Since my husband was also a servicemember, a lot of people assumed I would get out because I wouldn’t be able to handle being away from my children.”

Despite facing negative assumptions about her ability to balance motherhood and military service, Cummings defied expectations and joined the Army’s Active Guard Reserve (AGR) where she served full-time in the Army Reserve. This led to her deploying to Afghanistan when her youngest daughter was only four years old.

“It was difficult being away from my family,” said Cummings. “However, it is part of the job but I wrote letters and used Facetime when I got the chance. But I got through it because I was there for them.”

Cummings' dedication to her family and her commitment to serving her country go hand-in-hand. For Cummings, setting an example for her children and demonstrating the importance of selfless service are integral parts of her identity as both a parent and a service member.

“When I am lying on my deathbed, my children will be there with me and they will be proud of my service to our country,” said Cummings. “Showing my children they can contribute positively to the world is very important to me.”

Cummings' dedication to serving her country while also being a devoted mother is rooted in her desire to set an example for her children and for others in the military community. When asked to offer advice to other mothers in the military she emphasized the importance of owning one's role and not letting others' negative perceptions get in the way.

“If you love serving, don’t quit,” said Cummings. “If someone tells you that you can’t serve and be a mother, I am living proof that it can be done.”

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