Middlebury Institute student Laura Peyton MANPTS ’21 is a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Captain Peyton is a Georgia native, who has served in the Balkans, Germany and Afghanistan. But her story is a local one, too.
After high school she enlisted in as a linguist and was stationed at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey. Nearby Pacific Grove has long been familiar territory, where she spent off-duty hours across the Presidio and along Asilomar State Beach, watching waves crest the coastline while the sun cast shadows over her homework: stacks of newspapers and flash cards in Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, her language of study at DLI.
Peyton was stationed in the Washington D.C. area after she graduated from DLI, and then briefly in Munich. “I was working as a translator there, but this was right before 9-11.” She goes on to explain that “when that happened, the paradigm changed for me.” Returning stateside, she began working in counterterrorism. After being commissioned as an officer, Peyton shifted tracks again, this time turning her focus on nonproliferation issues, her current area of study at Middlebury Institute, along with Russian language.
This past summer, Peyton returned to Monterey and DLI, as an Assistant Director of Operations for the 311th Training Squadron after a two-year term supporting regional Department of Defense (DoD) operations on Oahu, Hawaii. It made sense for her to return the area, specifically Middlebury Institute. “The Institute was always on my radar, so to speak,” she says, “The emphasis on language acquisition was really important to me. I knew this would be the right place to capstone the career I’ve already had and to set out on a new and different trajectory.”
The Middlebury Institute has a long history of supporting the military community and the veterans who have chosen to pursue their education at the Institute at various stages of their service. When asked how her colleagues and fellow community members should honor veterans on this Veterans Day, Peyton says it all comes down to engagement — not only with those who have served but with your community and country. “If you want to be thankful for something then get involved. It doesn’t have to be with the military. You can serve with Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or other organizations. It just matters that you understand service.”
For More Information
The student-run Veterans Organization at the Middlebury Institute hosted a fundraiser Thursday night benefitting a charity that honors and commemorates service-members who died in the line of duty.
A Veterans Day event celebrated the military service of Middlebury Institute students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends with a barbeque and open house for the new Veterans Center.
“We are the best recruiters,” say Monterey Institute students and U.S. Army Veterans Jens Wiik and Olga Volcsko, noting that a number of their military friends have joined them after hearing their stories about MIIS.