US Navy, 1985-91
Jennifer Baun is a Youngstown Ohio native. She was born in 1966, the daughter of Homer and Irene, joining her older brothers Donald and Curtis.
She graduated from Boardman High School in 1984, having also completed a two-year medical occupations program at the Mahoning County Joint Vocational School. Her journey to the Navy began when she ditched a dreaded transcription class, took the ASVAB test instead and scored highest in her high school. Being born fifteen years after her brothers, Jennifer’s dad was nearing retirement when she graduated. She joined the military to pay for her education instead of burdening her father with debt.
She entered active duty the Navy in 1985 arriving for basic in Orlando. Jennifer would transfer to Norfolk for A school where she trained to be an Ocean Systems Technician Analyst. Additional training took place at C school in Virginia where she learned more Anti-Submarine warfare skills using the Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) and Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS).
Her first duty station was NAVFAC Coos Head, Oregon where she arrived in October of 1985. “I loved it there. It was a smaller town and a very tight knit crew on the base.” Her time there was spent either on watch-duty or playing catcher/pitcher on the military’s traveling softball teams. It was here Jennifer would meet Navy radioman Michael Cruce and marry him in 1987.
Their next duty station would be Hawaii where Jennifer was assigned to NOPF Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. This was their home until she mustered out from active duty on March 25th, 1991.
The remote and secure nature of her duty stations required her to have collateral assignments. Among those duties were, firefighting, security, medical and basic life support, and IRT team which she was qualified with the 45 caliber, 9mm handguns and shotgun. She also stood shore and harbor patrol, which would take her boat past the USS Arizona and USS Utah memorials. “It was very moving each time.”
She moved with Mike to St. Louis, Missouri where his family was located. Her medical skills learned in vocational school and polished in the Navy allowed Jennifer to work teaching CPR, first aid, and basic life support. In 1994, Jennifer and Mike separated. After a short stay back in Ohio, she returned to St. Louis and worked for a medical group which allowed her to expand her medical skills, to include learning phlebotomy and taking x-rays. In addition to work Jennifer continued to compete on softball teams several nights a week and earned an Associate’s Arts degree at St. Louis community college.
She joined the company, Express Scripts, where she stayed for eleven years working her way up from processing mail-order scripts to becoming a manager/auditor. She would leave the company and St. Louis in 2004 when she joined Cardinal Health to become a senior account manager. This would bring her back to Dublin, Ohio in 2006. She also began working towards her Health Administration degree through the University of Phoenix.
In 2008 Jennifer joined the managed care department of American Pharmacy Co-op based in Alabama. This allowed her to work from home and she is currently the Director of Business Analysis and Project Implementation. “I love what I do, creating projects virtually, and assisting Mom and Pop pharmacies.”
Jennifer became involved in veteran issues after a Veterans Day program at her church where she reluctantly stood up to be recognized. She was introduced to a Women’s veteran service group, Military Women Across the Nation (nee WAVES National), where other women veterans come together for support and friendship. This allows a format for women across all generations of service share experiences. Jennifer joined the Northeast Ohio Women Veterans Unit 21, formerly North Coast Waves, one of the strongest, most active women units in the country.
She became its unit president, and Region III Representative. Since then Jennifer has served as a committee member on the Ohio department of Veterans Services representing women veterans. She was the District 5 representative for NE Ohio, being a liaison between the state and local Veteran service groups. She is a past Vice Chair and currently is an emeritus member. Jennifer also keeps active in her local United Veterans Council, AmVets, AmVets 44 Riders, and American Legion posts. Jennifer was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in 2015.
What little free time she has is spent as a caregiver, with Pipsqueak, her two year-old Cowboy Corgi, making wine, and researching family genealogy.
In My words,
“My story is very similar to others who went into the military. It was an opportunity for me to get an education and figure out my future. I also entered the Navy thinking I would be trained and doing one job, but ended up doing something completely different.
As it turned out, everything worked out as it should have. The rate I went into was fascinating and important to the mission of the time. What I did was integral to America’s success during the Cold War, a war regardless of any actual combat, due to the nature of the circumstances and intellectual battles that occurred. I liken my enlistment to playing the most Intense game of chess, using the world’s oceans as the chess board, against a formidable adversary with our country’s freedom and security as the prize.
I had intended to make my service a career, but the military started downsizing and it seemed to be the time to get out. Little did I know that even the job I performed would end up going away.
I will forever be grateful for my time in the Navy. It helped me build the habits, on the lessons taught by my parents, which would guide me throughout my life. The friends I have made, are still in my life today. I’ve been blessed with both the family I was born into and a family I chose, my military sisters and brothers. The latter, shares a bond that others just cannot comprehend – it’s a community of unspoken kindred spirits and experiences.”