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Honoring our Heroes

1st Sgt. Sandra Dee Lucas

1st Sgt. Sandra Lucas served 20 years in the U.S. military including four years in the Navy reaching the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class and 16 years in the Alabama Army National Guard. Her Navy Enlisted was a Specialist (46S). Some of her awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal with Triple Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Navy Achievement Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal and Army and Navy Good Conduct Medals. She was also awarded the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award, the highest honorary award the Chief of Naval Operations may bestow on a civilian.

Sandra was born May 13, 1959, to her parents, Trinidad Mora, a U.S. Navy veteran, and Cathline Johnson, at Wichita, KS, where she graduated from Campus High School in 1977. She received a B.S. in English from American Military University in 2019.

1st Sgt. Lucas volunteered and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in April 1977. She spent four years in the U.S. Navy completing eight weeks of Basic Training at the Naval Training Station at Orlando, FL, followed by 12 weeks of training in Meridian, MS, to become a Yeoman at YN "A" School, followed by assignment to Washington, D.C. working at the Bureau of Naval Personnel as a yeoman with the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, the highest-ranking Navy enlisted person. After completing her Naval service, she worked in the civilian sector eventually becoming the Director of Manpower and Modernization for the Chief of Naval Operations responsible for refurbishing and modifying Surface service ships.

Lucas attended the Brookings Institute as a Brookings Fellow. During that time, she served in the office of U.S. Representative J.C. Watts from Oklahoma with whom she became Deputy Chief of Staff for OK-4. Eventually she met and married the love of her life. Following her husband John to Sacramento, CA, to support a base closure, they relocated to Montgomery, AL, where she worked for Governor Robert R. Riley as director of constituent services, military advisor and deputy chief of staff. While working for Gov. Riley, she volunteered and enlisted for service in the AL National Guard in 2013.

After returning from her first deployment, she was appointed by Gov. Riley to serve as external affairs officer for the AL Emergency Management Agency. Lucas' second deployment was to Afghanistan, and the third was to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She had various short-term assignments to Romania, South America and disaster recovery response areas. 1st Sgt. Lucas retired from military service in May 2021.

1st Sgt. Lucas has had a diverse career within the U.S. military with private administrations and non-profit organizations. She is the Assistant Commissioner for Outreach and Engagement at the AL Department of Veterans Affairs. She and her staff are responsible for reaching out to veterans ensuring that they have all the benefits that they have earned. They also host public events to raise awareness about Veteran Suicide.

Lucas and her husband, John, have been married for 29 years. They enjoy riding their motorcycles on the back roads in Ala. They attend the Church of the Highlands at Montgomery, AL, where she serves on the prayer team. She also enjoys running, reading and quilting. She is a member of the VFW, American Legion, Sunrise Rotary and Montgomery Chamber's Ambassador program.

Lucas sums up her military service stating, "Serving in the U.S. military was the opportunity that I needed to succeed. The military filled in the missing pieces of my early rearing. I received a sense of pride and discipline, and best of all, was the camaraderie. I lost the selfishness and arrogance of a young woman."

Assistant Commissioner Lucas reminds us that we are not alone. If you think of hurting yourself or others, call 988 and press 1. It is not a weakness to ask for help.

 

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