BOISE, Idaho – On Nov. 2, Lt. Col. Paul Boice raised his right hand and cited the oath of enlistment. It was the first time he had ever sworn someone into the Idaho Army National Guard.
“I (state your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Repeating those words back to him was a familiar face: his 17-year-old daughter, Pvt. Simonne Boice.
“It was very powerful and a cool experience when I saw her go to the position of attention and raise her right hand,” said Paul, staff judge advocate for the Idaho National Guard. “I’m very happy and proud of her. The emotions of it didn’t set in until I walked up to the podium.”
Simonne can’t pinpoint exactly what led her to join the Idaho Army National Guard, but her dad and her participation in the Idaho National Guard’s Child and Youth Services program played a large role in her decision to do so.
“A big part was because of my dad,” Simonne said. “Obviously he’s pretty cool and a big influence on me, but I’ve also been with the youth program my entire life. Being surrounded by the Army my entire life, I didn’t see me turning 18 and leaving the house without any military connection.”
Her decision to join the Idaho Army National Guard wasn’t a surprise to her mother.
“It’s something I’ve seen coming for a long time,” Marlayna Boice said. “She’s been so involved in youth programs, there wasn’t like this whole shocker of a moment when she told us this is what she’s going to do.”
Simonne has served as the state representative for Idaho’s child and youth program since August. Her connection to the Idaho Army National Guard now includes a six-year enlistment into the organization as a 35F intelligence analyst.
Her father, Paul, also joined the National Guard as an intelligence analyst when he enlisted into the Utah Army National Guard in 1997. He transferred to the Idaho Army National Guard in 1998 to attend law school at the University of Idaho College of Law and served in the occupational specialty until he commissioned as a judge advocate in 2003.
Simonne could follow a similar career path herself someday. She’s currently a senior lacrosse player at Boise High School and hasn’t decided where she wants to attend college. She hopes to study pre-law before proceeding to law school.
Simonne said she doesn’t consider herself an “Army brat” because she never moved growing up. Though her dad deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2010 as a judge advocate for the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, she can only remember his second deployment.
It was that deployment when she attended her first youth camp, which is held by the military youth program twice a year. She grew up attending other events the program sponsors but wasn’t able to attend camp until she was 10, which coincidentally she was when Paul deployed in 2010.
“I thought it would be my only time there,” she said. “I thought you had to have a deployed parent to go.”
Simonne has attended almost every youth camp since then and has since gotten heavily involved with the program.
The Child and Youth Services program is available to children 18 and younger who have a parent, sibling or legal guardian serving on active duty, in the National Guard and Reserves or have retired from a branch of service. The program offers resource referral, youth development, advocacy, student support and service learning to assist military children in development, resiliency and life skills.
Simonne is one of at least nine military children who have participated in the program and subsequently joined a branch of the military in the last four years.
She got involved with the program’s youth council leadership when she was 14 and was the program’s Boise representative before she was selected by her peers to serve as the state’s representative in August. In this role, she works with students from the four-state region of Idaho, Washington, Alaska and Oregon, known as Region 10.
“What I love about the program is it creates a really strong bond between all the military children,” she said. “Without the program, I feel like I wouldn’t have had that strong of a tie to the military. My dad is in it, but that’s just kind of his job. When he deployed, the program did a lot of things to help families out.”
She said the best part of the program is working with new adult leaders to help them understand how they can best help kids in the program and helping those same kids herself.
Simonne said she’s excited to start her career and learn new things in the Idaho Army National Guard.
“I can honestly say I feel incredibly good about her joining this organization,” Paul said. “I believe in our leadership and have every confidence in the world that she’s going to be taken care of and have good strong leaders to learn from.”