What do you know about serving in the Reserves? You might think it requires one weekend a month and two weeks a year, but truthfully, that is only the beginning of your military service. Often times it requires a lot more. Cynthia shares her experience of spending most of her career in the Reserves and how she got the title as “Man-Day queen.”
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Cynthia’s sister heard about the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and that you could get a monthly stipend while going to school so they decided to join. She really enjoyed her time in ROTC and had great Vietnam veteran leaders that worked to give them hands-on experience. Cynthia got married before she graduated and moved to Alaska with her husband and was able to work with the University of Alaska and the National Guard to continue ROTC and eventually commission and go active duty at her husband’s base. She spent 3 years on active duty. Her husband retired from the military and wanted to move back to Mississippi so she switched from active duty to Reserves.
“Manned Day Queen”
She said while in the Reserves she was sometimes called the “Man Day Queen.” A typical Reserve requirement is 50 days a year and she often was called up and served 150 days a year. She stood up in various units and did different jobs. When Desert Storm came they were put on standby, but never activated. Her step-son did get activated and since he had full custody of his son she and her husband took him in and he lived with him for a whole year.
Cynthia did various stints on active duty and six months leading up to September 11th is one of those incidents. She was working on a program that worked to track the accountability of service members in and out of the country. After Desert Storm, the military was continually working to prepare for the next war. To adapt technology to fix problems they had in Desert Storm. On September 11th she was packing to head back home and knew that she would likely be activated.
Her boss told her to go home as she planned. Four days later she was activated and then deployed to Kuwait to work on the same program she had worked on the six months leading up to September 11th. She got home in October of 2002 and then in January of 2003 was reactivated to help prepare for Iraq in South Carolina. Cynthia ended being sent to Kuwait but was only there for 3 weeks as the initial invasion happened so fast and the mass causalities that were expected never came.
A Woman in the Military
Cynthia talked about being the only woman so many times throughout her career. It led her to grow tough skin and not show her emotion. People often saw her as tough. When in reality her personality is very different than the exterior she put on as a military officer. She thinks that the military has changed a lot in the past 30 years. It is because of the women who have served and spoken up. With more women in leadership, the impact of the change women is making will only increase.
After the Military
Cynthia also was able to co-author a book in partnership with Camouflaged Sisters. Leading from the Middle was co-authored by 12 military women sharing their experience and leadership lessons from the military. Today she runs Patton Leadership and She Leads 365.
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