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ML's Monroe receives Silver Valor Award

Cheney Free Press of Cheney, Washington

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Saving a friend's life is likely one of the last things Natasha Monroe expected to do in high school, but last year, she did just that.

Monroe helped save the life of her friend, who was attempting to commit suicide. For her actions, she received the Silver Valor Award, the second-highest award in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC).

, After speaking with her friend over the phone one morning last year, Monroe went to the JROTC's retired Chief Master Sgt. Albert Mc-Gowan, who saw the impact the event had on her. He was able to contact the proper authorities from there. Monroe's friend was transported to a hospital for care.

"I'm one to usually deal with things on my own," Monroe said. "If I'm not sure about how to handle it, I'll go to someone else."

Retired Air Force Col. Lyle Powell, the instructor for Medical Lake High School's JROTC program/said Monroe did the right thing in seeking help with the matter.

"This is a good recognition for her, but also a good reminder for people that it's good to take care of each other," he said.

Monroe said she has seen plenty of support resulting from the event. But, she credits much of it to the JROTC program.

"There are a lot of people in JROTC that have supported me along the way," she said.

An awards ceremony was held in December before the high school went on winter break. School officials, some friends and Monroe's parents were among those in attendance.

Powell said Monroe's actions speak loudly in an environment where it's easier to just remain silent.

"Thinking of what needed to be done; for a friend is what was good to do," he said. "It reminds others to do those kinds of things and it's motivation for others to step forward if something comes up. She clearly deserved our award."

The program needed to appeal to its military headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, near Montgomery, Ala. in order for Monroe to receive the award. While the program regularly has the ability to distribute its own recognition, Powell said the event was out of their ordinary realm.

Monroe plans on attending college once she finishes, high school, likely to pursue nursing. Following her time in college, however, she hopes to join the Air Force.

Surrounded by members of the military in her circle of family and friends, Monroe said the JROTC program was appealing. She saw the actions made by members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association she belongs to, with her parents. Many of those members, she said, were veterans of the Vietnam War.

"I decided I wanted to have the right attitude and make the right actions to get through society," she said.

Once she learned that Medical Lake High School had a JROTC program, her decision was made.

"I joined as fast as I could," Monroe said.

Participating in the JROTC program, Powell said, focuses on leadership aspects in addition to citizenship.

"We'd like to think that her actions reflect us," he said. "Our program is about teaching kids to be better citizens of the U.S., being part of a larger group and taking care of each other."

He also hopes that Monroe's actions to help a friend inspire others.

"We hope any of our kids in the same situation would do the same thing," he said. "The reality is that every situation is different and some kids will step up."

Lessons from the JROTC program have helped to transform Monroe, and the effects, she said, have been invaluable, and have helped her to grow during her time in high school.

"JROTC has changed a lot for me," Monroe said.

James Eik can be reached at

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Original Publication Date: January 12, 2012

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