GUERNSEY – The new addition to the communications department at Camp Guernsey was born into the military not as an Army brat, but rather, a Navy brat. That Navy brat has now grown to become a Second Lieutenant with the military at Camp Guernsey.
“My dad was in the Navy for 21 years,” Jamie Bridenstine said. “We started out in Virginia and when I was about 3 we moved out to Illinois to Great Lakes Naval Base where he was a drill instructor. We moved out here to Wyoming when I was pretty young.”
Once the family moved to Wyoming, it became Bridenstine’s stomping grounds and she graduated from Cheyenne East High School, enlisted in the Army and then went to the University of Wyoming on the G.I. Bill. She graduated in 2019 with a degree in communications.
“I went through R.O.T.C. and was one of a small group of kids who were on the minute man scholarship, which was $5,000 per year,” she said. “My recruiter said I was like one of the success stories. It was a really good opportunity.”
At that point they told her if she signed up with the guard, there was a great opportunity and she would still come out an officer afterward.
“So. Scholarship, school paid for, officer at the end, it was like, ‘YES.’” she said. “You had to go to R.O.T.C. training between your third and fourth year and that’s your graded training. It determines where you’ll be placed. Whether you’ll go active Army or the National Guard or Army Reserves, and what job you get.”
She opted to go National Guard rather than regular Army and knew that career path at 21 years of age when most students are still backpacking around Europe and having a hard time deciding which mode of transportation to take to get from Germany to France.
“I wanted a civilian lifestyle as well,” she said. “I guess I don’t want to say that I saw how unhappy my dad was, but I guess I saw that he didn’t have the civilian life or the family time he wanted with me and my brothers.”
Although she said her dad was always there for birthdays, he was in the Navy, so his deployments were six-months in length each year for his tours.
“I understand with deployments, I’m going to have to be gone,” Bridenstine said. “But when you’re on the active duty component, you are pulled away so much. Another part of it was that I wanted a civilian career. I wanted to do that civilian lifestyle and be the traditional M-Day on the weekends.”
Bridenstine not only opted for a military career, but also chose to apply for the public relations job that was open at Camp Guernsey. She also wanted to put down some roots and become more a part of the community, so she purchased a home in Guernsey three weeks ago and is steadily working on her house and getting acclimated to the small community after living in Cheyenne all of her life.
On the public relations side, Bridenstine has many ideas that she would love to implement to create a bigger and stronger bridge to the community. She also has endeared herself to the small community which she now calls home.
“I was very happy that there was only one main road that goes through town,” she said. “I think it’s beneficial that camp is right here in Guernsey because we have such a strong military community and such a strong community in general. I wanted that. Kind of like this Hallmark, small-town kind of feel I’m getting and stepping into a Hallmark moment.”
Her only complaint so far is that she can’t locate Kale at the grocery store.
“I think what I love most about it though is how neighborly it is,” Bridenstine said. “The Monday before I officially moved into my house, we were in there cleaning and making sure the lights worked, putting in curtains and blinds and I saw a neighbor outside and I decided to go and meet my neighbors.”
Since the initial introduction she was invited to do many of the things Guernsey has available including a long relaxing float down the river. Bridenstine is no stranger to Guernsey and did some of her training at the camp when she was doing her R.O.T.C. training. She fell in love with the facility and the community from the time she spent there.
Part of her job is to keep the community apprised of events going on at the Camp, including updates on fires the camp may be fighting. She is well versed in communications and public relations, not only from her studies at UW, but from the time of her college graduation until she began her job with Camp Guernsey, she was the television producer for KGWN-TV NewsChannel 5.
That experience taught her videography skills as well as camera skills and news writing. When COVID hit she also did some news reporting for NewsChannel 5.
“I want to start off slow here in Guernsey,” she said. “I think first I would like to highlight some of the cool people around camp, like the guy who’s been here for 40 years mowing the lawn. I think that would be such a cool story
“It was a lot of training on what not to do with the video camera,” she said. “Like learning how not to break it.”
She sees herself moving up within the next five years to a rank of a first Lieutenant and getting ready for captain. On the military side, she is an artillery officer with the 2300 artillery battalion.