After being away from Salem for 20 years, Teresa “Terri” (Callahan) Hayes ’73 came back to campus this summer to celebrate her 50th reunion. “I was amazed that things have changed so much. It’s a ‘go to’ place now.”
Terri’s journey to Salem State began at Greenfield Community College where she received a two-year degree, eventually enrolling in Salem State to obtain a bachelor’s degree in social work.
Upon graduating and navigating the professional world for three years, Terri quickly realized that social work was not her calling. “Out of the blue, my friend suggested I look into joining the military. I went down to the local recruiter and all the different branches of military service were lined up along one hallway, so I decided to visit each one.”
Terri touted her Salem State degree during her inquiry, evaluating which branch would give her an officer’s position. Before she knew it, she was a direct commission with the U.S. Army and on her way to Officer Training School (OTS) at Fort McClellan in July 1976. She received her butterbars and began training for second lieutenant.
Little did Terri know, she was on the precipice of military history. The summer of 1976 started the integration of male and female forces, putting her in a unique position.
The U.S. Army assigned Terri to the Quartermaster Corps and she was sent to Fort Lee in Virginia for her first training experience, with her first assignment deploying her to Nuremberg, Germany.
“At the time, Nuremberg was a huge U.S. base with thousands of soldiers.” Terri was the first female officer to arrive.
“The men looked at me like, ‘What are we going to do with her?’ Many of them didn’t like it, but I knew I was completely capable of my position.” In her unit, there were ten enlisted females and two female officers.
During her next assignment in Aschaffenburg, Germany, Terri continued confronting animosity and chauvinism from her peers but was thankful for the support she received from her commanding officer—and her soon to be husband, Jim, who was an engineer officer and captain.
Terri entered into the reserves and eventually decided to become a military wife once she began her family. Her two sons followed in their parents military footsteps–the eldest is on active duty in the Air Force, serving as a colonel, and the youngest served for eleven years as an enlisted Marine with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
While her children were still young, Terri went back to school for interior design. Since retiring, she and Jim built their dream home in North Carolina, putting their engineering and interior design backgrounds to good use.
Terri is thankful for her experience in the military and the position she had on the frontlines of history, and she encourages people to explore the advantages of military service. As a donor to Salem State’s Veterans Second Mission Fund, which supports the Veterans’ Affairs Office and student veterans studying for their degree, Terri is sympathetic to their transition. “If you’re in the military, returning to civilian life is a very hard transition. I think it’s something special to have a program like this, one that supports our vets and spreads awareness.”
Learn more about the Veterans Second Mission Fund at Salem State.