Alley-White Post 52    
Mountain Home, Arkansas 

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Mission Statement

Our mission at Military Service Sisters is to empower and support women veterans in Arkansas by creating a strong and inclusive community. We aim to connect women veterans who have shared similar experiences, providing them with a safe and understanding space to share their stories, challenges, and triumphs.
We recognize that women veterans often feel isolated and disconnected from their communities, as their unique experiences are often overlooked or misunderstood. Our organization strives to bridge this gap by fostering a sense of belonging and sisterhood among women veterans.
Through various programs, events, and resources, we aim to empower women veterans to thrive in their post-military lives. We provide opportunities for networking, mentorship, and personal growth, enabling women veterans to build meaningful connections and support systems.
At Military Service Sisters, we believe that no woman veteran should feel alone or unheard. We are dedicated to advocating for the needs and rights of women veterans, ensuring their voices are heard and their contributions are recognized.
Together, we can create a community where women veterans feel valued, supported, and empowered to lead fulfilling lives beyond their military service.

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strive for 500!

Did you know there are 19,000 women veterans in Arkansas? So far we have 2,000 stories registered! Arkansas has been challenged by the Military Women’s Memorial in Arlington, VA, to record 500 Arkansas Women Veterans HERStories in 2024. If you have not recorded your story, click "Register Her Service" below to get started!

Semper sororibus

We currently support two programs in Arkansas:


Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) Women Veterans Summit
Arkansas is home to over 19,000 women veterans. In partnership with ADVA, our goal is to educate, connect and advocate for the empowerment, recognition, and well-being of our women veterans. With this summit, we not only celebrate the contribution of women veterans in Arkansas, but we also acknowledge their ongoing role in the betterment of our society. We address critical issues, like healthcare, education, employment, housing, and mental health, providing a safe and supportive environment for our women veterans.
We are here to listen, to learn, and to act, driven by the conviction that our brave servicewomen deserve nothing less than our unwavering support and recognition.They are leaders, trailblazers, and sources of inspiration, and this event is but a small token of our gratitude.


Little Sisters Project
In 2022, the Mountain Home chapter adopted the Mountain Home High School LT Thrift Store, supplying feminine hygiene products to students who are unable to afford these basic necessities. There is a large number of students that are in need of these items due to limited resources. A large percentage of these students are also living on their own. Students can access the feminine supplies in several bathrooms on the school's campus. Our goal is to be able to expand this program to the Junior High and Middle Schools. 

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Mountain Home, AR                             Conway, AR                                     Harrison, AR                             Hot Springs, AR

JONESBORO, AR

Sisters supporting sisters


Members of the North Central Arkansas Military Service Sisters recently added a charity function to their organization, working with Mountain Home High School Counselor Stephanie Caraway and the volunteers of LT Thrift Store at MHHS to launch the "Dignity for Little Sisters" program. 

Sending off a military sister

Helen Louise Fenwick of Mountain Home was laid to rest on June 29 following a prolonged battle with cancer; she was 69. A retired U.S. Air Force veteran and member of the Alley-White American Legion Post 52, Fenwick received military flag honors from the U.S. Air Force and from an all-female honor guard from the legion post.

Mountain Home celebrates new centenarian

Mountain Home resident, First Baptist Church of Mountain Home member and veteran Edith Mitchellcelebrated her 100th birthday early Saturday afternoon at First Baptist Church of Mountain Home. More than 100 people attended the celebration.

WOMEN ARE VETERANS TOO

Lauri Rottmayer is one of two Arkansas women to be featured in the inaugural Woman Veteran Calendar in 2024. She is a member of the Honor Guard at the American Legion, member of the local Twin Lakes Marines and member of the North Central Arkansas Military Service Sisters, expressing how much she loves and appreciates meeting and knowing other marines.

Sisters supporting sisters

North Central Arkansas Military Service Sisters launch “Dignity for Little Sisters” program

Helen Mansfield - The Baxter Bulletin   (hmansfield@baxterbulletin.com)

Members of the North Central Arkansas Military Service Sisters recently added a charity function to their organization, working with Mountain Home High School Counselor Stephanie Caraway and the volunteers of LT Thrift Store at MHHS to launch the "Dignity for Little Sisters" program.
The military sisters group was originally established by former Dist. 3 Veteran Service Officer Elesha Graniss of Flippin as a way for female veterans to socialize and extend comradeship to female veterans in the area, many of whom believed they were the only females in the Twin Lakes community with military experiences.
According to military sister Coordinator Rev. Jami Scott, the military sisters have become quite successful, with about 100 rostered members and about 20 showing up each month for the group’s regular lunch or dinner gatherings.LT Thrift Shop sponsor Caraway said that Scott has individually participated in the shop’s Christmas program for a few years before including the rest of the sisters this year.
“She is always eager to help and searching for opportunities for the NCA Military Sisters to get involved,” Caraway said of Scott. “She recently asked me about the need for feminine hygiene products in school. I told her about girls frequently asking for products and how last year we were able to put large boxes of products in two of the girls' bathrooms at the high school.”
She said doing so allowed girls to not have to make a trip to her or the other counselors’ offices to ask for products, but it also introduced an opportunity for girls who don't have necessary products at home to take whatever amount they needed privately as well as creating easy availability for students who may not have felt comfortable asking prior to that.
“Since it required a large amount of products, we were only able to keep the bathrooms stocked for a short period of time,” Caraway said.
The military sisters are now sending in feminine hygiene products monthly for volunteers to replenish what they have now and put back in the girls' high school bathrooms for far easier and more private access for students.
Scott said the idea was to help students, especially the “stunningly large number of local high school students that are in need of basic household items due to their own limited resources and socio-economic background.”
A large percentage of these students in need are living on their own.
While students have the option through LT Thrift Store to make a wish list of items they'd like to receive for Christmas, Scott recently became aware of a girl that had requested sanitary products as a Christmas gift.
“In further conversation, it was explained that the school used to provide free individually wrapped feminine hygiene products in each of the girls restrooms — so the girls would not have to go through the indignity of asking for them directly — but they were going through roughly 10 large packages each of pads and tampons per month and the school budget could not sustain this,” Scott said.
Her hope is that the military sisters can completely take over the burden of providing these items at the high school, though it is still too early to gauge the response, though she said early indications from the sisters are that it may be “robust.”
She said one member has arranged a monthly Amazon delivery of sanitary products to her home and another filled Scott’s back seat with donations.
“Members from as far as Eureka Springs and Harrison are stepping up and I'm excited to see where this will lead us,” Scott said.
For more information on LT’s Thrift Store, visit their Facebook page @ LT Thrift Store or call (870) 425-1224 (tel:(870) 425-1224). Donations are accepted at the front office of Mountain Home High School.

Sending off a military sister

Helen Mansfield - The Baxter Bulletin   (hmansfield@baxterbulletin.com)

Helen Louise Fenwick of Mountain Home, was laid to rest on June 29 following a funeral at the Kirby & Family Funeral Home Chapel and cemetery service at Kirby’s Tucker Memorial Cemetery.
At her service, Fenwick received military flag honors from the U.S. Air Force and from an all-female honor guard — provided by Alley-White American Legion Post 52 of Mountain Home — the first time in the local legion’s history.
The honor guard consisted of:
• Rifle 1 Lauri Rottmayer, U.S. Marine Corps
• Rifle 2 Kathryn Johnson, U.S. Army
• Rifle 3 Roberta Schaper, U.S. Marine Corps
• Bugler Jamie Barreda of Alley-White Auxiliary Unit
It was Rottmayer’s suggestion to assemble the all female honor guard.
“She was just so cool,” Rottmayer said of Fenwick. “I wanted to get her a full female detail.”
Fenwick died on June 25 — while in care at the Hospice of the Ozarks — following a prolonged battle with cancer. She was 69.
Born Aug. 26, 1952, in Tucumcari, N.M., the former Helen New was an U.S. Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War. She married fellow airmen David Fenwick on Jan. 25, 1975, in Anson, Texas.
The couple moved to Mountain Home in 2001 and became members of the Alley-White Post 52. She also was a member of the North Central Arkansas Military Service Sisters.
Fenwick was a sheriff's deputy for Baxter County Sheriff's Office and a number of her fellow deputies served as pallbearers, along with her boss, Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery.
In her spare time, she enjoyed gardening and fishing.
She is survived by son Brandon (Mandy) Fenwick of Sherwood; daughter Leslie (Derrick) Fenwick of Madison, Ala. She had four grandchildren, Kanyon, Ashley, Eli and Ian, along with three great-grandchildren, Karson, Ayden and McKenzie.
Fellow airman, legionnaire, service sister and friend Rev. Jami Scott officiated her service, saying she was honored to pay tribute to a woman who was such a presence, adding that all in the room were “blessed to have her” in their lives.
She read from Psalm 23, the psalm of David, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want,” followed by a soulful, country recording of “Amazing Grace.”
Scott met Fenwick roughly two years ago through the service sister group.
“She had a very dry wit and an unusual style to go with it, which made her very memorable,” she said of her friend. “She also had a way of making people feel comfortable around her, no matter who they were.”
She told the crowd that the beauty of knowing someone like Fenwick is that “her stories will never end, and there will be time to tell them when cracking open a bottle” and encouraged those that loved her to “share the stories that they may think aren’t appropriate in this setting,” which garnered laughter from the group.
Scott said Fenwick grew up in a time when women were expected to be quiet and to take a step back, but “she was not that woman.” When some men were afraid to have their number called to go to Vietnam and others ran, Fenwick volunteered. She dealt with controversy with humor when dealing with those who had something to say about her service.
“She taught us and shared so much with us, our bonds are eternal,” she said.
The service concluded with a recording of “Holes in the Floor” by Steve Wariner and the crowd recited “Our Father.”
The North Central Arkansas Military Service Sisters veteran group was organized in 2017 by Elesha Granniss, who served as the Veterans Service Officer for District 3 and the Arkansas Women Veterans Coordinator.
The group started with about five women, who thought they were the only female veterans in the area; over time, the group has grown to almost 100 female veterans. On average, about 20 group members meet monthly for lunch — and quarterly for dinner — at various locations to offer comradeship and mutual support.
Scott said while the group operates independently, it has a number of informal connections to the local American Legion post. Fenwick’s funeral is the first time that sufficient numbers of local female veterans were available to make up a complete American Legion honor guard detail to honor one of their own. While she admits that there aren’t written records to confirm, Scott believes she is the first female to serve as post chaplain for the Alley-White American Legion Post 52.
“She would have really liked it and how it was handled,” David said of his wife’s services. “I was very happy with it.
Granniss met Fenwick through the service sisters, saying the two “hit it off big time” as they were both retired Air Force veterans and both pugs owners.
“She was so funny; dry humor. She always had us cracking up,” she said, adding that Fenwick would have been happy and proud to see her service sisters at her funeral.
Granniss said Fenwick rarely missed a lunch gathering, as she really liked the camaraderie of the group.
“She served all over the world and had some great stories and experiences,” Granniss said. “I’m really going to miss her.”
David said his wife enjoyed her meals with her service sisters. The couple met when they were both stationed at the Richard G. Barr Air Force Base outside of Kansas City. After they were married, they were sent overseas to Intelek, Turkey.
Prior to moving to Mountain Home, they had lived in Alton, Ill., but moved in 2001 to be close to David’s parents, who lived here.
He said back in January, Fenwick had come down with pneumonia and during testing, doctors discovered she had a spot on her lung. It was cancer. By the time a biopsy was performed in May, she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer that had metastasized elsewhere in her body.
Three weeks before she passed, she came down with pneumonia again and David said she began to go down hill rather quickly. He said he is grateful for all the wonderful care she received at Baxter Regional Medical Center and Hospice of the Ozarks.
Fellow service sister and friend Mary Ann Lockman described Fenwick as having “a rare, down-to-earth, no B.S. attitude about her which was refreshing.”
“She didn't put on airs; she spoke what she thought, even if it wasn't popular,” she said. “And yet, she had a tender heart.
Lockman recalls that after the group’s lunches, Fenwick would pull out a to-go container and throw her food scraps in it. She said that she was taking the food home to feed the opossums that came around her place at night.
“The first time she did that, I said to her, ‘you've got to be kidding?’ She looked at me, shrugged her shoulders and said, ‘hey, they’re hungry too’.”
That began the ritual where all the members would toss in their scraps for the opossums.
During Fenwick’s grave-side service, Lockman said that when “Taps” was being played, the music player ran out of power and crapped out about six notes in. While some attendees may have found this embarrassing or unprofessional, Fenwick’s friends and husband David found it oddly appropriate.
“When we thought about it, we kind of had this feeling Helen may have had a hand in that,” Lockwood said. “We were just too serious for her, and she decided to leave us with one more of her quick-witted pranks to lighten us up.”
Scott described her friend as “funny, deprecative, unique and a lot of fun.”
On the Friday before she died, the service sisters held their monthly lunch. Scott reached out to David to see if she and Rottmayer could come by as they had a card for her, signed by all the service sisters. He cautioned them that Fenwick might not know who they are, but said they could come visit.
“I walked into the living room where she was seated, oxygen cannula in place and padded blankets around her — since she had lost almost all of her own padding. I said I’d brought something for her and she immediately sat up straighter, with a spark in her eye, and without missing a beat asked, ‘a cigarette’?” Scott said. “This was less than 24-hours before she passed, and yet she was still using humor to lighten the mood and make everyone else feel more comfortable.”
As for the playing of “Taps,” Scott agreed that Fenwick would have gotten a kick out of the epic fail.
“I kept thinking Helen would probably have loved that someone blew a raspberry at her funeral,” she said.
Memorials for Helen Louise Fenwick may be made to the Humane Society of North Central Arkansas.

Mountain Home celebrates new centenarian

Helen Mansfield - The Baxter Bulletin   (hmansfield@baxterbulletin.com)

Edith Mitchell was all smiles Saturday afternoon as more than 100 members of her church,the community and members of the North Central Arkansas Military Service Sisters came out to wish her a very happy 100th birthday.
The celebration is a little early as Mitchell’s birthday isn’t until Friday, Dec. 24.
Mitchell was born in North Carolina and has one daughter, Carol Miller, of Gainesville, Mo.
Miller joked that at least half the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Mountain Home came out for her mother’s celebration.
Guests were treated to light hors d’oeuvres of pinwheel sandwiches, a variety of crackers, cheeses and meats, along with a beautifully decorated cake and delicious cupcakes from Mershon Cakes in Gassville.
In lieu of presents, Miller asked that well wishers just bring birthday cards to the party. Mitchell received nearly 100 of them.
“This has been wonderful,” said Mitchell. “It’s almost unreal.”
Miller said her mother is still very independent, though she no longer drives. She counts on the volunteers from Kindness, Inc., to take her to her doctor’s appointments.
She said Mitchell lives alone, doing everything on her own.
“She still bakes and visits her friends out in the nursing homes,” Miller said. “She’s ministered to others all her life.”
Miller was thrilled with the turn out and suspects that more people would have come out had the weather not been so cold and damp. Others sent their regrets as they had to finish their Christmas shopping or spend time with family from out of town.
As a Mountain Home resident for nearly 30 years, Mitchell was recognized earlier this month by the Mountain City Council by proclamation from Mayor Hillrey Adams. The proclamation was issued by the Military Women’s Memorial and recognizes the 99-year-old as a living legend for her two-and-a-half years of service in the Women’s Army Corps.
She served during World War II as a chaplain’s assistant as a member of the Women’s Army Corps from 1943-46.
Mitchell was stationed in California. As Army troops cycled through before deployment, they were offered the opportunity to attend religious service two hours before their departure overseas.
In her duties as chaplain’s assistant, Mitchell served as an organist and soloist at each of these services, some of which took place as early as 2 a.m. Services were held on Saturday for the Jewish Sabbath, and Sunday for Protestant and Catholic faiths. Mitchell is a member of the North Central Arkansas Military Service Sisters, a female veterans group that meets once a month at various Twin Lakes restaurants to socialize. As part of her 98th birthday celebration with the military service sisters, Mitchell was awarded a Quilt of Valor.

WOMEN ARE VETERANS TOO

Cole Sherwood - The Baxter Bulletin   (csherwood@baxterbulletin.com)

Growing up in the Chicagoland area, military service wasn't at the forefront of the future U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Lauri Rottmayer's mind.
Rottmayer, who lives in Lead Hill and works in Mountain Home, recalls how it all came to be.
“I joined on a whim,” says Rottmayer.
Graduating high school at 16, she decided to take a year off to consider her future, and that is when she developed the idea of serving in the military. Initially considering the possibility of joining the U.S. Air Force, she ultimately enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1978 after a discussion with her uncle who was himself a Marine.
Thinking back to the early days of enlistment, Rottmayer recalls her first days of bootcamp.
“Six of us girls from Chicago got to bootcamp a week earlier than the rest of our platoon. We spent the week in preparation, sewing on our name tags, learning to march … and the six of us were moved into the squad bay the night before everyone else would arrive.”
Thinking of that first night they spent in the large, cavernous squad bay meant for 10 times as many people, “I just remember how it was kind of scary,” Rottmayer said.
Rottmayer became a squad leader early on, along with two others, and all three maintained that position of honor throughout bootcamp. As training continued, “I kept thinking it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be … the hardest thing was the sand fleas at Parris Island, because they were relentless. The girl who stood behind me, I can’t remember her name but I can see her face and I will love her forever, because we would stand in the chow line and she would blow them off my neck.”
After bootcamp, Rottmayer became a Manual Morse Intercept Operator. Referred to as “ditty-chasers” due to the signature sound, Manual Morse Intercept Operators would copy Morse code transmissions.
“I liked it, it was fun,” she says, “we were in a different language area, so I didn’t know what I was copying, but you would intercept and copy the code and then you would give it to the linguists to figure out. I love games and puzzles, and to me it was like a game.”
“My secondary MOS (military occupational specialty) was as a marksmanship training instructor, because I’m pretty deadly with an M16.” Rottmayer went on to say “They let us use scopes and I felt like I was cheating because it was so easy after previously only using the iron sights on the rifle.”
To those potentially considering joining the Marines, Rottmayer says, “I think you should do it — why not? So much good came from me being in the Marine Corps, most importantly my husband, who is like my whole life. I wouldn’t have met him if I hadn’t joined the Marine Corps.”
Lauri and her husband, David, will be married for 45 years in April.
In 1983 Rottmayer was pregnant with their youngest son, Geoff, and made the decision to leave the military and was discharged. During her five years in the service she was awarded the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the Samuel B. Morse award, several meritorious letters of commendation and was promoted meritoriously three times.
As time progressed Rottmayer would become a volunteer as they continued to live in various locations overseas. She served as president of the American Women’s Association in Bahrain, as well as president of the North American Women’s Association in Ghana.
Rottmayer says that an issue unique to women veterans is that they are often overlooked or not recognized for their service.
“It’s not like I want to be thanked for my service, I really don’t and I feel uncomfortable with that, but the mere fact that it’s not recognized is irritating,” she stated, describing a number of instances where her husband will be thanked by a civilian for his service, while she would often receive an incredulous look or tone when they would realize she is also a veteran. “Women have been officially serving in the Marines for 75 years, and it still has to be said — women are veterans, too.”
Lauri Rottmayer is one of two Arkansas women to be featured in the inaugural Woman Veteran Calendar in 2024. She is a member of the Honor Guard at the American Legion, member of the local Twin Lakes Marines and member of the North Central Arkansas Military Service Sisters, expressing how much she loves and appreciates meeting and knowing other marines.
Currently, Rottmayer serves as the Association Executive of the North Central Board of Realtors. She is involved in community service efforts and fundraising for the Special Olympics. In her free time, Rottmayer enjoys spending time with their pets and farm animals; creating online content for her website, podcas, and YouTube; writing, currently working toward finishing her second book; and participating in various pageants, having been crowned in such events as Ms. Southwest International and Classic Ms. Crawdad Days.
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