Tamera Calhoun

My name is Tamera Calhoun. I served in the Army from 87-92. I decided to join the military to get away from my home, my REZ. I was raised on an Indian Reservation in Oregon. I wanted to learn how to be on my own and grow up. I had already been accepted into a woman’s college in Massachusetts, but I knew I wasn’t ready.Tamera Calhoun

I was drinking and travelling to native softball tournaments in the northwest all the time. I was getting bored and drinking was taking up all my time. So I knew I just wasn’t ready for college. I didn’t want to set myself up for failure and to be so far away from home I wasn’t sure what I would have done if I failed. Most of my high school buddies were joining the military and I thought why not? What do I have to lose, and how do I sign up?

I had a grandfather and uncles that were all in the military. I saw the honor they had, and the community had for our veterans, but I never thought I would join or want to join, too dangerous. So I meet with a recruiter while still in high school with less than a month to graduation. I was supposed to head to college in MA, but I was scared, new friends, new community, and I was never on my own in a city before. 

It’s weird how I was scared to go away to college, but not the military, where I would know no one, or be near none of my family. I guess I figured I would see my classmates in training or something, just like high school, but I didn’t know that then. So signed up and passed all the tests, woohoo. I was headed to training; basic and AIT in Alabama. Wow, what an experience. 

Changing my mind and entering the service, for my country, my tribe, my family was the best choice for me. I left the day after high school graduation. I remember thinking man I couldn’t have left next weekend. I need one last shindig with my party buddies, nope wasn’t going to happen.

My first duty station was Germany. I got to see a lot of Europe, by rail, by car and by bus. For me it was a great first choice for my duty station, which the recruiter said I would pick where I wanted to go for my first duty station. I thought man there’s no way there going to just send me to live in Germany, boy was I wrong. 

The Army was a great fit for me, helped me to grow and be on my own. When I got out and moved back home, the old guys, (what I called my grandpa and his crew) they couldn’t wait for me to join them for parades and events. I was like what, wait huh. No, no I’m not ready for all that yet. I didn’t know the old guys were part of a veterans’ organization. I thought they were close because they were all related; brothers, uncles and cousins. And all these meeting were actual meeting and not just family gatherings. They were part of this organization called the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Now I totally understand.

In my community all the old guys are gone. And there are not that many veterans here that want to carry on this tradition. This organization that has been a huge part of our community since 1952. I figured it was probably time for me to step up and keep this organization alive in our community with the help of other veterans that have earned the right to be a member. 

Now I am the Commander of Elliott Palmer Post 4217, and have been for the last two years. So I must be doing something right or the only one to say, “Yeah, sure I’ll do it (again).” 

Spec E-4
95B Military Police
U.S. Army
VFW Post Commander Tamera Calhoun
Elliott Palmer Post 4217
Warm Springs, OR


Read More Stories