Summer Intern TJ Reflects on Gold Star Family's Day

posted on Monday, September 27, 2021

“I’ve always felt proud to have so many of my family members in the military,” said TJ, a sow production intern who spent this summer working and learning at Iowa Select Farms. “I grew up with an understanding that service members make sacrifices when they enlist, but they do it to protect you, their families, and everyone in our country.”

TJ knows what it’s like to be part of a military family. Her dad has been an active service member for 37 years and her stepmom, a few cousins and some friends from high school all serve as well.
“I can still remember when guests could come eat lunch with us in elementary school, my dad would come in his military uniform when he could, and I would get so excited,” she said. “My dad is my hero and you really appreciate those moments you get with your family more because you never know when they might be deployed.”

TJ poses in front of a military truck

TJ’s family went from being solely a military family to a Gold Star Family when her uncle Roger lost his life while serving in the Army. She described her uncle as a family man and world traveler who left a lasting impact on her and her family.

“Roger passed away two or three months after I was born, so I never knew him, but in a way, I feel like I do because my family makes an effort to talk about him, sharing funny stories and keeping that memory alive,” TJ explained. “I feel like I would personally connect with him so much. I’ve never met him, but his service and sacrifice has really impacted me. He was willing to risk everything for us and for this country. I am so honored to be related to someone so brave.”

TJ's uncle Roger

It’s evident that TJ carries her pride in her family with her in everything she does, even in her role as an intern this summer where she was an invaluable asset to her team. She was proud to be part of the Iowa Select Family, in part because of how much the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation work to give back to military members and their families.

“I just think it’s unbelievable that a company chooses take time out of their business-related work to do this,” said TJ. “I’m trying to think of how to put it into words, but it leaves me a little bit speechless to think about how Iowa Select does all this to support and show love to the military families of the fallen and the current. It made me so grateful to be a part of the company.”

TJ holds a baby pig.

Before her time as an intern, TJ’s family was introduced to Iowa Select Farms when they received a Gold Star Family flag from the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation last fall.

“My mom definitely read everything in and on the package. My grandpa right away said that we needed to hang the flag up,” said TJ. “We aren’t really an emotional family, but in that moment we kind of reminisced and enjoyed the moment, and I could feel the love in the room.”

It was a touching moment for the family and was a big part of the reason she eventually became an intern.

“We often don’t think of the military family behind the service member. Recognizing not only the soldier but their family too, is so important,” she said. “Not many people take the time and make the effort to do that, so it means a lot that Iowa Select has.”

TJ sits on the back of an Iowa Select military pickup