Singing Army Wife Meets Leno Between Recording Sessions

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Lisa Pratt earned an all-expenses-paid trip to record a three-song demonstration CD at DMI Music's Firehouse Recording Studios here after winning the 2009 Operation Rising Star singing contest. Rising Star is one of hundreds of programs the Alexandria, Va.,-based Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command provides for soldiers and their families.

After her first session in the recording studio, Pratt sang the praises of the Army Family Covenant, which supports soldiers and their families with resourced programs that deliver a quality of life commensurate with their service and sacrifice to the nation.

"The Army Family Covenant; this is what it is," Lisa said, before departing the recording studio to attend "The Jay Leno Show" in Burbank, where she got to meet one of the world's most- famous comedians.

"I never knew that Operation Rising Star was going to open all these doors for me," she said.

For Lisa, the journey to serve as an ambassador for FMWRC's Army Entertainment Division had just begun. For Matt Pratt, who redeployed from Mosul, Iraq, last autumn and accompanied his wife from Fort Carson, Colo., to Hollywood, the Operation Rising Star winner's journey reaffirmed his belief in the Army's promise to support soldiers and families.

"I'm trying to take it all in, but it's an emotional time for me because I get to see Lisa do what she absolutely loves doing," said Pratt, a 2006 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. "For the past year while I was in Iraq, she was supporting me and what I was doing. Now the Army has provided me the opportunity to sit here and support her with what she does."

Pratt never had the opportunity to sit back and watch his wife of nearly four years perform until she took the stage to compete in Operation Rising Star, a program best described as "American Idol" for the military.

"In church, I play the guitar and she sings," he said. "But to see her under the lights and me be on the receiving end as part of the audience, I'd never had the opportunity to do that.

Pratt knew that his wife had won a recording session, but he had no idea what level of professionalism awaited them in Pasadena.

"That's part of the magic. It's overwhelming to see the level that she's at and to see her basking in it. It still seems very surreal," he said.

"I asked her, 'Is this really happening?'" Pratt recalled. "And she said, 'I don't think it is.' So, I think both of us are sort of caught in some sort of hyper-reality right now."

Capt. Pratt, too, is praising the Army Family Covenant program.

"So, here we are in sunny Los Angeles right now," he said, "and the Army Family Covenant is the reason we're here, and I couldn't be more grateful."

The trip to California with his wife, Pratt said, ranks among his best-ever family experiences.

"The only thing I would compare this to, as far as the level of emotion I feel, was walking into the gym and seeing Lisa for that first time after I came back from Iraq," he said. "This is up there. It's on par with that sort of feeling of surreal. This is one of the most exciting times since Lisa and I have been together."

Pratt then sped away to drive his wife to meet Leno.

(Tim Hipps works with Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command public affairs.)