Natalie and her husband, U.S. Army Capt. Tommy Ryan, both graduated from West Point, where they met. She had to leave the service because of a spine injury, but now works in graduate relations at the Air Force Academy. Her husband has spent the last 9 months deployed to Afghanistan. He left just 6 months after the birth of their daughter, Mikayla.
Most of Natalie's family is on the east Coast (she's from VA and he's from FL), so besides occasional visits, she's been a single mom.
They stayed connected during his deployment through Skype. In fact, Ryan is a bit of a celebrity in Mikayla's eyes. She ranks him right up there with Elmo, because she knows him as the guy on TV, just like the famous Muppet!
Tommy's next assignment is to go back and teach at West Point after he goes through graduate school.
He’s been looking forward to coming home, heading to a cousin's wedding, Christmas and then a cruise together (without the baby) in January.
Tell us about a military man or woman in your life on our special Salute to Troops iReport assignment page: iReport.com/Salute. You could see your hero on Morning Express with Robin Meade!