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Mom, son deploying to Iraq together
Oregon family leave Fort Stewart in July
The Vandermolen team
Spc. Anita VanderMolen and her son, Pfc. Levi VanderMolen, pose during post-mobilization training. They will deploy in July. - photo by Capt. Charles Patterson
Anita VanderMolen may wear one uniform, but her job comes with many different titles.    
She is a soldier, a specialist, a public affairs officer and, to the guys in Bravo troop, 1-82 Cavalry, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, she is “Vandermommy.”
“The guys have really taken to her,” Lt. Justin Howland, the troop’s leader said. “She is kind of the like the troop mom.”
“I think it is good,” he said. “I think our platoon is going to benefit from having someone’s mom around when we deploy.”
Vandermolen, who is assigned to the 41st IBCT, the Oregon National Guard unit currently training at Fort Stewart, earned her latest title after she enlisted in the guard at the age of 41 and then signed up to deploy with her 19-year-old son, Levi Vandermolen, to Iraq.
The pair will leave with their units this July.
“It was kind of weird at first, but she had been talking about it for a while, so I figured she would eventually do it. She usually does not come up with something and then forget about it,” Levi said. “It’s a little scary knowing your mom is going to deploy with you, but she is a big girl. She can handle herself.”
Before joining the Army, Vandermolen worked as a sign language interpreter and spent most of her time taking care of  her family — husband Tim, daughters Jody, 23,  and Becky, 21, and her sons Sam, 17, and Levi.
Her daughter Jody is in the Navy, Becky is deaf and Sam, according Vandermolen, is just a normal teenage boy who likes to be independent.
“You can kind of say our family is not normal,” she said. “Everybody is pretty independent.”
“They’ll be alright,” she said of her family. “They won’t miss me too much.”
Vandermolen said she got the idea to go into the Army after she visited her daughter at the naval base where she is stationed.
She said military culture is full of respect and pride, and it captivated her, prompting her to join.
“I have not had anybody tell me I was crazy,” she said. “Most people
are proud of me, as I am of my kids who are doing this.”
Now Vandermolen has an extended family to take care of, the young men and women in her unit.
“I fixed somebody’s hair just the other night,” she said. “I think we all kind of blend in together.”
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