Jenna (Roberts) Sanders was born in 1984 and grew up near Denver, Colorado, with her parents and younger brother. Her father worked in heavy equipment, and her mother was in finance, sales, and management. Jenna was always interested in sports as a young girl, and played soccer, track, and hockey growing up. In high school, she knew about the Air Force Academy, but took a chance by visiting West Point, an experience that was miserable because of the constant rain during her visit, but she felt the history and wanted to be part of something larger than herself. Her dad was thrilled about the possibility of Jenna coming to West Point, but her mom was not as happy. Jenna attended Beast Barracks in the summer of 2003, and remembers the chaos of that day, including parading in someone else’s shoes (an upperclass teammate) because she had not been issued low quarter shoes yet. She also remembers meeting her roommate, soccer teammate Lynne Janeck. Over her Beast Summer, she enjoyed the rifle ranges because it was a chance to relax from the rigors of Cadet Basic Training. Academically, she struggled with time management and chose to major in Spanish, appreciating the variety of classes she could take from other departments in support of that major. She enjoyed being a member of the soccer team, and felt that it was like a family. During her plebe year, she began suffering from compartment syndrome in her legs, resulting in the feeling of her feet being asleep while she was on a road march or in the middle of a soccer game. Her Coach, Gene Ventriglia, helped her get diagnosed, and she had surgery on both of her legs, eventually spending a year at home recovering. When her legs finally healed, she returned to the Academy and entered the Class of 2008. She rejoined the soccer team and recalls one game in particular. During the Army / Air Force game, she broke her arm but did not realize it, and she played the rest of the game and part of another game before realizing that it was broken. She branched Signal Corps and was assigned to Ft. Stewart, Georgia, in the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, in 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. In 2009, she deployed to Baghdad as a Signal Company Executive Officer and Unit Movement Officer, spending time on FOB Falcon and BIAP (Baghdad International Airport). In December 2010, she returned home, attended the Career Course, and reported to Ft. Riley, Kansas, assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. She first served as the S-6 for 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery (before women were assigned to the 5th Field Artillery – Hamilton’s Own) before taking command of the Signal Company in the Brigade Special Troops Battalion. After commanding that company for 14 months, she took command of the Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company and deployed to Kuwait. In 2015, she and her husband left the Army because they were supposed to return to West Point to become Tacs, but her redeployment timeline caused her to miss the deadline for reporting to Columbia University for grad school. She had married Brian Sanders, a Field Artillery Officer, in 2008, and both left the military at the same time. After leaving active duty and working with corporate recruiter Cameron Brooks, she took jobs with Textron Aviation, Husqvarna, and now works for Comp Train.
In this interview, she talks about her childhood, attending West Point, serving in the Army, and her life after the military. She highlights playing Army Women’s Soccer at West Point, the struggles she experienced, and a few notable games. She shares stories of her time in the Army, including deployments to Iraq and Kuwait. She describes leaving the Army and some of the jobs she has taken. Finally, she reflects on what her service and West Point mean to her.