Leah Esper, 55, is married to Mark Esper, who had been serving as the Secretary of the Army since November of 2017.
President Trump announced on June 18, 2019, that he was naming Secretary Esper to be the Acting Secretary of Defense. The president wrote, “I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!” Mark Esper was sworn in as the permanent Defense Secretary on July 23, 2019.
Leah Esper is used to the challenges of public service. Her husband was deployed shortly after they got married and Secretary Esper praised her during a Senate confirmation hearing in 2017 for being the family’s rock as they moved multiple times during his time in the Army.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Leah Esper Gave Birth to Her Oldest Child in an Army Hospital Overseas
Mark Esper expressed his supreme gratitude to his wife, Leah Esper, for her support during his confirmation hearing to become the Secretary of the Army. In his opening statement before the Senate Armed Committee in November of 2017, he began by talking at length about Leah.
He explained that shortly after they tied the knot, about three decades ago, he was shipped off for a 7-month deployment with the 101st Airborne Division during the Gulf War.
Secretary Esper added that Leah rolled with all of the challenges that come with being a military spouse. She gave birth to their oldest child overseas in an Army hospital. He had been commanding an airborne rifle company at the time, he explained during his opening statement.
2. Mark Esper Praised Leah For Taking on the Dominant Parenting Role During His Training & Deployments
Mark and Leah Esper’s military family experience involved a lot of moves, as most families experience. Secretary Esper said during his Senate confirmation hearing that they moved four times in five years early on in their marriage, as they were having their three children. He said his wife “always made a home for our growing family wherever the Army sent us.”
Secretary Esper praised his wife Leah for taking on the bulk of the parenting duties when he had to leave for drill, training and other work assignments. He concluded this part of his opening statement by saying that he owed Leah a “big thanks… for all of the support she gave me during those years, and the terrific job she did raising our children when I was gone. Her support is something I know I will lean on again should I be confirmed as the next Secretary of the Army.”
3. Leah Esper Previously Served as the President of an Athletic Booster Club in Fairfax County
Leah Esper appears to have a background in education. An online search of records suggests she may have previously been an elementary school teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia. But her name does not come up in a search of current licensed teachers on the Virginia Department of Education website.
She did previously serve as the president of the Lake Braddock Athletic Booster Club. Lake Braddock Secondary School is located in Burke, Virginia, and is part of the Fairfax County Public School system. Esper’s picture was included in a Connection Newspapers article in 2017, when the school’s gymnasium was renamed for its first Director of Student Activities, Robert Carson. You can see that article here.
Esper appears to have since stepped down from that role. The athletic boosters website does not include her name on the list of current officers and board members.
4. Leah Esper Has Been Active in Visiting With Servicemembers & Their Families
Leah Esper has appeared alongside her husband during visits to various bases during his time as Secretary of the Army. In July of 2018, they spent time at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.
Esper was photographed reading to a group of children in the Watters Child Development Center 2. Esper laughingly explained at the time that one of her son “was a huge Dr. Seuss fan and he would ask for ‘The Lorax’ or ‘Yurtle the Turtle’ every night. I have those pretty much memorized.”
Esper also visited Fort Campbell High School during the trip.
5. Leah & Mark Esper Have Three Adult Children
Leah and Mark Esper have been married for nearly three decades, according to his bio on the Army website.
Their three children are all adults now. They are Luke, John and Kate. Leah Esper shared a photo of all of them together in January of 2015, joking that when it comes to nice family pictures, “I guess one every 4 years is good!”
Luke appears to be the child that Mark Esper mentioned as having been born in an overseas Army hospital. Luke wrote on his Facebook page that his hometown was Vicenza, Italy.