Soviet turned American citizen excelling for her new homeland
January 2, 2013
Some children aspire to become athletes, astronauts, doctors or lawyers. For a young Inna Lloyd, her distant dream was to serve in the military, something women were forbidden to do in her Ukrainian homeland.
Born in the former Soviet Union, Lloyd wondered why women were not afforded an opportunity to join the military.
"At that time it was only a dream, but I knew in my heart that one day I would be able to achieve it," said Lloyd, a contracting officer with the Army Contracting Command-Aberdeen Proving Ground's Fort Huachuca Division at Fort Huachuca Ariz.
"In the Ukraine, males are subject to mandatory military service for two years," Lloyd said. "Unless they were a full- time student or for medical conditions, they had to serve."
Growing up in Sumy, Ukraine, Lloyd lived in an environment where once the Soviet Union was dissolved, the former Soviet republics proclaimed their independence and sought to reestablish their own national identities.
Before she was born, her mother's family had been thrown out in the streets by the Bolsheviks when her grandfather spoke out against the political ideology. For his rebellion, he was imprisoned in labor camps for 15 years.
Despite growing up under the watchful eyes of the Bolsheviks, Lloyd's parents went on to graduate from college and become university professors in the Ukraine. Lloyd herself went on to graduate from Sumy University with a bachelor's degree in teaching and later earned her master's degree in public administration from Bowie State College, Md. Today, she is a doctoral candidate at North Central University, Ariz.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and armed with a degree and a desire to explore
the world, Lloyd accepted an invitation to visit her sister in the Czech Republic.
"When the Soviet Union fell apart, the national borders became open to everybody," Lloyd said. "I was a young, freedom-seeking individual who was ready to explore the world."
After several weeks into her visit, Lloyd decided she was ready to go home, but there was a catch.
"Little did I know that she bought me a one-way ticket," Lloyd said. "She said that I would have to figure out how to earn enough money to buy my own return ticket."
Three years later, Lloyd saved the money but had decided to remain in the Czech Republic, in part, because she had started her career as an assistant contract manager "By then, I had a good life and career in the Czech Republic so I decided to stay," said Lloyd, who is fluent in Russian, Czech, Ukrainian and English and is conversational in German.
Her life took a dramatic change in 1999 when she met and fell in love with an American Soldier traveling in the Czech Republic. After dating for about a year, Lloyd and the Soldier were married and she moved to Germany where her new husband was stationed. While stationed in Germany, Lloyd realized she had an opportunity to fulfill one of her life's dreams and talked it over with her husband.
"I joined the U.S. Army in 2000 after about a year of being married. My husband was surprised, but at the same time supportive of my intent," said Lloyd, who went to Fort Jackson, S.C., for basic and advanced individual training.
According to Lloyd, basic training for her was somewhat easy. She didn't understand the slang many of the drill instructors used when they were upset and she didn't miss out on what she considered luxuries.
"When the drill sergeants were yelling I knew they were mad, but I wasn't sure what some of the words meant," she said. "Some of the trainees were crying about the drill instructors and others about not being able to eat at McDonalds or go buy a Coke. None of that hurt my feelings because it was pretty close to the environment I had left in Europe."
During the rest of her four years of military service, her European accent drew some, but not a lot of attention.
"I met a lot of people who were curious and wanted to learn more about my heritage, but I don't believe people treated me differently because of my heritage," said the former human resources noncommissioned officer who, during her enlistment, deployed to Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Balad and Camp Victory, in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"My parents always wanted me to do the right thing and make the right choice no matter what. Serving my newly adopted motherland, the United States of America, was my honor and my personal tribute to the freedoms we all enjoy," she said.
Lloyd applied for U.S. citizenship in 2001 taking advantage of an executive order designed to speed up citizenship proceedings for non-citizens who had served in the U.S. military since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After her paperwork was lost numerous times, she finally was granted citizenship in 2005.
Always looking to improve, Lloyd said her military experience taught her personal discipline, the ability to function under stress, and understanding the importance of team work and leadership.
"It also taught me to always be aware of internal and external aspects of our operational environment, and how ongoing changes can potentially affect the nature of the execution of our contracting mission," said Lloyd.