By Kelsey Knoedler Perri
Leigh Swanson, 67, from Bremerton, Washington, served in the U.S. Navy from 1979 to 1994-- six years on active duty, and then in the Naval Reserve until her early retirement in 1994. She served as a judge advocate (lawyer) and retired as a Lieutenant Commander. Leigh joined the military to serve the country and launch her legal career. “Looking back, forty-four years down the road, I consider joining the Navy to be the single best decision I've ever made,” said Leigh.
Since retiring from the Navy, Leigh has become an avid traveler and lifelong learner. In 2019 she began traveling with Road Scholar, first learning about Hopi pottery in Capitol Reef National Park, then hiking Oregon’s Central Coast in 2022, and taking part in two online Road Scholar programs and 16 online lectures—learning about everything from Greek gastronomy to African drums!
When she received the email on Veteran’s Day last November introducing Road Scholar’s all-veterans trip to Normandy, Leigh immediately knew she would be on that trip! “I've found that regardless of age, sex, or branch of service, there's a bond that connects all veterans,” said Leigh. “I've always wanted to visit Normandy, and the opportunity to do so with fellow veterans was too good to pass up.”
Leigh will be traveling with her sister Jeanie. She says she chose her because, of her four siblings, Jeanie is the one who would have the time and interest to take the trip. And she wasn't wrong. “I called her on Veterans Day and asked if she'd like to go to France,” said Leigh. “It took her about 20 seconds to say, ‘Sign me up!’ She's been to Normandy before and found it an impactful experience. She was grateful for the chance to visit again.” This program will be a really special experience for all involved.
Please see this Press Release about the program Leigh and her sister are going on: