Asian Pacific American Heritage: News 12 speaks to 1st woman & Asian-American to lead New Jersey National Guard

Major General Lisa Hou commands more than 8,400 soldiers and airmen. She joined the New Jersey National Guard in 1994 after one of her medical school classmates asked for her help on a research project.

Karina Gerry

May 6, 2024, 9:58 AM

Updated 19 days ago

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In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, News 12 is spotlighting New Jersey residents who've had a positive impact on their community.
News 12’s Karina Gerry spoke with Major General Lisa Hou, the first woman and Asian American to lead the New Jersey Army National Guard, about breaking down cultural barriers at the New Jersey National Guard.
“My priority since I've been in this position has been people and our organization. We want to reflect the communities that we serve,” Hou said. "It is an extraordinary honor, it is unfortunate in this day and age that we have firsts, but it just means we have more work to do."
Hou grew up in Monmouth County. Her father came to America in his 20s from Taiwan, and her mother's family came from China. She credits her grandfather, who served in the Chinese nationalist army, as one of her inspirations for joining the reserves.
"You know, him telling his stories about being in the military, he is always pushing work ethic as well as my father who is probably the hardest working person still to this day I have ever known,” Hou said.
Hou commands more than 8,400 soldiers and airmen. She joined the New Jersey National Guard in 1994 after one of her medical school classmates asked for her help on a research project.
"Part of the project we were looking at doing medical assessments on helicopter pilots and at that time we had Huey's. It was my first time flying in a helicopter. I was scared to death, but it was amazing. I was hooked,” she said.
In 2005, Hou served in Iraq as a senior field surgeon, and she was deployed again in 2011 to Afghanistan. Hou is also the first Asian and first woman to serve as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.


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