WASHINGTON, DC (02/28/2012)(readMedia)-- Army Cpt. Yolanda O. Lee of the District of Columbia National Guard is amongst 78 service members slated to attend the Nation's Gratitude dinner hosted by President Barack Obama and the first lady Wednesday at the White House.
The purpose of the dinner is to express the nation's gratitude to, and recognize the significant contributions of, the men and women in uniform who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and/or Operation New Dawn, and the families who supported them.
Lee will be one of eight National Guard citizen-soldiers and airmen. A panel of senior enlisted leaders from every branch of the Defense Department chose the 78 service members, who represent the 54 states and territories and the District of Columbia.
Lee was humbled and appreciative of the invitation– and she stated she represents a team.
"Having been selected to represent the soldiers of the District of Columbia Army National Guard at the Nation's Gratitude dinner is indeed an honor and a privilege," Lee said. "It is my hope that I will be able to represent our Capital Guardians well, knowing the tremendous sacrifices they have endured over the past 10 years."
Lee was born in Southeast D.C. and attended Ballou High School. She joined the D.C. National Guard as a private and later commissioned through the ROTC program. She attended the University of the District of Columbia.
Lee has served in the District of Columbia National Guard for 19 years. She has been a military police company commander and battalion administration officer. She currently serves as the international affairs officer to Jamaica as part of the National Guard State Partnership Program.
Lee deployed to Iraq in 2005. She was assigned as an individual augmentee to a Minnesota National Guard unit, where she stepped into a leadership role immediately as a platoon leader. She served as a convoy commander and frequently faced enemy contact.
"I stepped into a unit where most of the soldiers knew each other and had been serving together in Minnesota," she said. "I was from a different place, but we learned to work together quickly and form a team to complete our missions. I think about the people I served with in Iraq often. It's an honor to be representing them."
Lee currently resides in Northeast D.C. Her mother, Joyce K. Williams, a brother, Andrew Durham, and two sisters Michelle and Charde Lee still reside in Southeast Washington.
Lee mentioned how important the support of her family has been during her career and during her deployment. "The DCNG soldiers and families have supported Operation Iraqi Freedom valiantly."
Those also attending include Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chiefs of the five services, the service senior enlisted leaders, Gold Star families and wounded warriors.