Why I Became a Drill Sergeant

05/22/2019  |  By Sgt. Stephanie Bodogh
The Griffon
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Becoming a U.S. Army Reserve drill sergeant did not make me who I am. It is because of who I am that I became a drill sergeant.

The ability to wear an additional cloth on my right chest pocket, nor the distinct headgear, led me to become a drill sergeant. It is the characteristics that I possess within, the same ones that led me to seek out the Reserve drill sergeant unit in my state. I am not the only one who has these characteristics and beliefs though. I know this because I have met and worked with many leaders who share the same passion and beliefs as  I .​

Soldiers want to better their leadership skills and train Soldiers so that the Army as a whole can be in a better position to accomplish any mission. One of my goals as a drill sergeant is to better assist those who serve in the Reserve Component by sharing what I have learned and experienced.

Many Reserve Soldiers are teachers Monday through Friday who tutor on the weekends, except for the one weekend when they are a company commander. They are chief executive officers Monday through Friday, and a first sergeant for a group they may only see for one weekend a month. They are seasoned police sergeants and detectives who are specialists and sergeants responsible for Soldiers who are spread across multiple states. Many Soldiers, whether officer or enlisted, are in the Army Reserve because they are accomplishing a master’s or doctoral degree. They have just started a business or have been hired into their desired career that will support their family financially and is a reward for many years of dedication.

Every Reserve Soldier must be able to time manage, take initiative, and be able to quickly evaluate and reevaluate a situation so they can properly prioritize needs and allocate time and effort towards getting the mission accomplished. This ability to balance and accomplish a lot in a small-time frame all while bringing in civilian experience is the exact reason the Army Reserve so dynamic.

Through my civilian career, multiple deployments and various trainings, I have learned a great deal. Having more than one military occupational speciality has allowed me to view things from different angles and has exposed me to many different types of leadership. I have had a very exciting and purpose-filled military career. As a Reserve Soldier, I have been afforded many opportunities that are rare, even for my counterparts on Active Duty. I became determined to find a way to share my best practices and to help with Soldier development and unit efficiency. To do that, I was told that I should attend the United States Army Drill Sergeant Academy.

A Drill Sergeant can motivate and train a large group of diverse trainees in a short amount of time. A Drill Sergeant can teach a majority of skills with very few resources. I realized that with the skills of a Drill Sergeant, I would be able to effectively work with any number of Soldiers to accomplish any task, all while promoting and reinforcing the standard. I was told that the Academy is where the standard is ingrained into a capable leader so that it can be properly instructed to anyone, no matter their previous experience or current skill level. That appealed to me because I wanted to help evaluate and teach the new incoming Soldiers and possess more tools to continue leading in the Army Reserve.

I searched for a drill sergeant unit in my state, asked for the requirements, then took the necessary steps to transfer into the unit and go to the Academy. Once I completed the Academy, I realized that everyone would see my patch and would expect the very leadership I sought to receive from the Academy. Though the cloth does not make me who I am, it does hold me accountable. No matter how many years pass from when I attended the Academy, that patch demonstrates that I was taught and evaluated on my ability to be a standard bearer. The patch announces, before I can verbally present myself, that I was identified as a leader who has a strong foundation and an agile leadership style to effectively communicate, work with, direct, mentor, motivate, support, and teach as many as necessary in a short amount of time.

When a Reserve drill sergeant is done with their obligation, they have the option to continue working as a drill sergeant or return to their original career path. If they remain a drill sergeant, they will prepare Reserve drill sergeant candidates to be better prepared for the Academy and give them any additional leadership guidance as necessary. Remaining a drill sergeant also allows you to support and develop drill sergeant missions, the Drill Sergeant of the Year competition, and many other training opportunities. Returning to your career path means all of the leadership development that you gained as drill sergeants can be shared with others who haven’t been exposed to a drill sergeant since Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training.

The drill sergeant leaders at the Academy evaluate the leaders that are presented to them as top noncommissioned officers. They ensure that if you are going to present yourself as the standard, that you are indeed the standard. That you will always make the effort to do what is right and that being truthful is innate to you. They ensure that you are capable to teach and share knowledge that is accurate and effective. They want to make sure that no matter the amount of pressure, personal stress, fear, time constraint or limitation, that you will deliver the best that you can and that your best can surpasses the standard.

As a U.S. Army Reserve Soldier, you tend to have a very small window to interact with someone during duty hours, very little resources and equipment to work with and it is with a very diverse group of Soldiers. Having qualified as a drill sergeant and working with other drill sergeants has added to my leadership tool box. Becoming a drill sergeant did not make me who I am. It is because of who I am, that I became a drill sergeant.

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