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When most people think of Vanessa Lachey, they think of the TV host, actress and model. But behind the media success is a strong military background that continues to influence her career today.
Vanessa was born on November 9, 1980, at Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga, Philippines. Her father, Vince Minnillo, was a USAF aircrew member stationed at the base, where he met and married a Filipino, Vanessa’s mother Helen Berecero. Due to her father’s service, Vanessa moved frequently throughout her childhood. She attended seven different schools and lived in California, Nevada, Florida, Germany, Japan, and finally, South Carolina. In 1986, her parents divorced. Her new step-father was also in the Air Force, and Vanessa moved with her mother to his base in Turkey. But after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, Vanessa rejoined her father stateside.
In high-school, Lachey was a passionate cheerleader, which eventually led her into the pageant world. After she won the Miss Teen South Carolina and Miss Teen USA titles, her career began to take off. She pursued sports broadcasting at ESPN and Fox Sports Net, and later acting with the soap opera The Bold and The Beautiful. Between 2003 and 2007, she was a fixture on MTV as a VJ for its hit show Total Request Live (TRL) – once highlighting the work of the US Army Parachute Team – and then with the ABC hit adventure game show Wipeout. Her media success threw her into the paparazzi’s eye, as a photo model for men’s magazines.
In 2011, Vanessa Lachey married the entertainment star Nick Lachey. Like Vanessa, Nick is linked to the military, with his brother Drew having served as an Army combat medic. The couple is now expecting their first child, and in this new chapter of her life, Vanessa has continued to support the military. Her understanding of the hardships of the military family lifestyle has led her to team up with footwear and accessories company ShoeDazzle. In this partnership, Vanessa has worked to create a line of military-inspired stiletto boots, which feature faux black snakeskin and buckles. All profits from the sale of the shoes benefit Operation Shower, a military 501c3 that holds baby showers for Active Duty wives at bases and golfing events, through its work with The PGA TOUR®’s Birdies for the Brave, a Veterans Advantage partner. On this Project, Lachey said, “I am so thrilled to be able to raise awareness for a great charity like Operation Shower... Growing up, my father was in the Air Force, so I have an understanding of what it’s like to have a loved one overseas during life’s biggest events. ShoeDazzle has provided me with a fun and fashionable way to support the military – and new moms!” Since its inception in 2007, Operation Shower has showered more than 800 military moms from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard.
Before becoming pregnant, Lachey told People Magazine, “I would love to have children and work. I definitely don’t want it to slow me down. I’m always going to be, ‘Go, go, go.’” She has held true to her goals, as she continues in her career and commitment to supporting those who serve and their families.
Note: Drew Higgins, Associate Editor at Veterans Advantage, edited this piece.
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