Army Reserve fills vacant female drill sergeant jobs
Staff Sgt. Zandra Santana, 1st Battalion, 389th Regiment, 98th Infantry Division, Army Reservist from Puerto Rico, packs her gear at the Central Issue Facility. Santana is a mobilized drill sergeant on Fort Leonard Wood for six months as part of a program to place more female drill sergeants into training units.

When Fort Leonard Wood found itself short on female drill sergeants, they turned to the one Army organization that could help -- the Army Reserve.

"There needs to be a female role model in every platoon. Not just for the safe and secure aspect of things, but to show that females are as equally important to our Army as males are. So, we requested support from the 108th Training Command in the Army Reserve," said Sgt. Maj. Timothy Gates, MSCoE G3 Operations sergeant major and Fort Leonard Wood Army Reserve senior enlisted adviser.

Fort Leonard Wood was short about 42 female drill sergeants, according to Gates.

To help Fort Leonard Wood fill the vacancies, 20 Army Reserve female drill sergeants will be on post for the next six months. They will be distributed across the Engineer, Military Police and Chemical Brigades as needed.

Staff Sgt. Jessica Griffice, 2nd Battalion, 414th Infantry Regiment, 95th Division, Salt Lake City, Utah, is one of those drill sergeants. She left her job at an Army Equipment Concentration Site to come to Fort Leonard Wood and said she is grateful to be here.

"I am glad I get to actually do my job as a drill sergeant. I'm ready to put my long hours of training at drill sergeant school to good use," Griffice said. "I want to get out on the trail and motivate all these new Soldiers."

Normally, drill sergeants from the Reserve are only on post for a couple of weeks as part of their annual training. Griffice is looking forward to spending longer than a few days with Soldiers-in-training.

"I feel like our impact isn't as great. This is a big deal to be able to be here for six months straight and see cycles go from the beginning all the way to graduation," Griffice said.

About eight years ago she herself completed Basic Combat Training on Fort Leonard Wood. Griffice said she has fond memories of the female drill sergeant who taught her how to be a Soldier.

"Drill Sgt. Taylor. I will never forget her. I think about her all the time. When I met her I thought 'I want to be just like her.' She was just awesome -- and she was in the Reserves as well. She has lead the way for me for sure," Griffice said. "It's important for all Soldiers to see positive female role models."

Gates said the Reserve drill sergeants have received the same certifications as the Active Component.

"I can look at any drill sergeant and employ them the same way," Gates said.

He believes having Reserve and active-duty Soldiers working together reemphasizes the One Army concept and is grateful to have the Army Reserve's assistance.

"It doesn't matter what component you are, whether it be active, Reserve or National Guard, we all serve the same purpose. We are all one team with the same mission," Gates said. "The Army Reserve has and continues to support Fort Leonard Wood by filing critical vacancies within our formations. They have stepped up and performed very well. The Army Reserve has allowed Fort Leonard Wood to execute its mission. They deserve the credit, they have been great for us here."

Page last updated Wed October 17th, 2012 at 00:00