Melissa Harcrow didn’t see herself as having very much ambition while growing up in El Paso, Texas. She described herself as “coasting through life,” particularly during high school, where she didn’t participate in clubs or after-school activities. She eventually decided to join the military like her father, an Army Veteran, but when he tried to talk her into joining the Air Force “because it was better for women,” something changed inside her.
“Him saying that about the Air Force made me want to join the Army [like he did],” she said.
Harcrow enlisted in 2002 for a career in logistics and property management that would span 12 years and multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Not being one to highlight her own accomplishments, she said she “shoveled poop” during an Iraq deployment. She was commissioned as a warrant officer in 2009 and later assumed financial responsibility for weapons and other sensitive equipment in Afghanistan.
“I was the property book officer for an explosive ordinance disposal battalion,” Harcrow said about her 2013 deployment to Bagram joint service base in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She explained that, “they would go out and recon routes and find those [improvised explosive devices] with a lot of special equipment. You’re talking about very expensive equipment potentially getting in the hands of the enemy or out on the black market, if not accounted for properly.”
Harcrow’s job was to ensure inventories were completed accurately, especially those for sensitive items, and to issue necessary equipment to the Army, Air Force and Navy units she was responsible for across the combat theater.
If these items weren’t properly accounted for and did not make it to their intended units in time, “it would have made them vulnerable and unable to complete their mission,” she said. “They wouldn’t be able to identify IEDs, and that would have put them at risk.”
Her husband, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Harcrow, said he was very impressed by her independence and ambition when they first met during a 2007 Army deployment to Qatar in support of a Patriot missile air defense system. The Harcrows have been married since 2009 and have two children.
Melissa Harcrow earned numerous medals for her four deployments from 2003 to 2013, including Army Commendation Medals, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and a Global War on Terrorism campaign Ribbon, among others.
After Harcrow left the Army in 2014, she worked for local government in El Paso, serving on the Veterans advisory committee, where there was only one other woman serving at the time. This helped forge a new passion for her: serving women Veterans.
“Women Vets are the fasting growing population of homeless Vets, and we need to figure out why. There are people out there who need our help and we need to be their advocates,” she said.
Maria Gonzalez, founder of El Paso Texas Women Veterans and an Army Veteran who served for 22 years, met Harcrow through her community work. Like Jason Harcrow had been years earlier, Gonzalez was impressed with this “action girl’s” leadership and commitment.
“For a mom to do so many things for her community and keep a balance for her family, I think that’s wonderful. And it shows her military ability to be well-organized, to give quality time to her family and still give quality time to her community,” Gonzalez said. “And I think that’s admirable.”
We honor her service.
Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
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It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to [email protected] with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Writer: Philip Van Slooten
Editors: Ashley Shaut, Cate Manning
Researcher: Gabriella Begley
Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley