By Ms. Courtney Dock (Army Medicine)February 16, 2018
The U.S. military has a reputation of getting things done. After all, the military is designed specifically to bring the warfighter to the fight and win. Sure, there are plenty of stories of amazing humanitarian work being done around the world by our service members, but from the moment a recruit steps off the bus at boot camp, the thought of kindness usually gets tossed right out the window.
While the military is full of amazing technology and warfare fighting capability, the heart of the U.S. military has always been its service members. The visual of a hardened military police officer juxtaposed with a kind caregiver who gives to others and goes above and beyond is where this story really begins.
Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Cheryl Broussard is the kind of woman who is about bottom lines and getting things done. Described as hard as nails, she's the kind of woman who, when you work with her, she approaches the situation with a "what do you need? Stop whining, let's get this done," kind of attitude according to her supervisor, Col. Matthew Konopa, chief, U.S. Army Medical Department Professional Education and Training Department.
But underneath the harden exterior is infinite compassion.
"If something is broke, even if it's not in her lane, she's going to get into it and try and fix it and try to improve it," said Konopa. "Whether it's mentoring young NCOs, or mentoring old officers like me when we need it. She's very engaged."
Her kindness extends beyond the Army. Broussard goes above and beyond working behind the scenes to help people in the community. When one of the Soldiers in her office was doing some remodeling, he asked if she knew anyone in need of furniture.
Broussard knew the perfect family.
"She organized the pick-up. They were the nicest family," said Col. Peter Guevara, Dental Education Branch Chief.
"The family didn't have a bed to sleep on. The family was a working family with a few kids and trying to make ends meet," said Konopa. "She made the arrangements for them and now you have a family who is sleeping comfortably at night."
One of Broussard's close friends of more than 13 years, Sue Love said, "Cheryl is such a giving person. She would literally give me the shirt off her back. She is always willing to help me and will set her tasks aside in order to help me and others."
"Cheryl believes in the military. It has been her home for over 30 years," said Love. "She takes care of the Army just as she does her home with a stern hand and soft heart. She believes she can make a difference and she can. She brings a smile to work, has the skip in her step, and feels proud to be able to continue to serve."
One example of Broussard's soft heart for the Army was her taking an interest in a fellow co-worker.
The co-worker was described as bristly, persnickety, and sometimes hard to get along with. Broussard took it upon herself to be an active part in the co-worker's life.
"We used to have an employee, Ms. Dick, who served four years in the U.S. Army Women's Corps, and then worked as a [Department of the Army] Civilian for 42 years," said Konopa. "Ms. Broussard took the employee she knew for only a couple of months and got her the medical care she needed.
Ms. Dick needed medical care due to dementia. Broussard found her the care and got her into an assisted living home.
"Cheryl took an active interest in this employee to make sure she was taken care of. She had no family close by and she said, 'We're not just going to abandon her,'" he explained.
When planning the office holiday party, Broussard lead the group to have it at the assisted living home to include Ms. Dick. Shortly after the holiday party, on Dec. 24, 2017, Ms. Dicks passed away.
"Cheryl, in the absence of her family, was the conduit between Ms. Dick and the facility and what was needed," said Konopa. "Behind the scenes she coordinated with the hospital for the remains, found a local funeral home, linked the VA with the funeral home for expenses, and went out of her way to get the insurance documents to the sister. She took care of Mrs. Dick and we had a lovely funeral at Fort Sam Houston Cemetery. And it was us. The funeral service, the rifle platoon, everything, and it was us out there and the flag was presented to Ms. Broussard."
"We're having the flag framed and put here as a remembrance to the long-time employee," said the colonel.
"If that's not taking care of a soldier for life, because nobody would have known the difference, then I don't know what is," he added.
Cheryl continues to help make the Army a better place to be, said Love.
"She works harder than most people I know and brings with her a dedication that is unstoppable. She gives everything she has to help those in need," said Love. "She is always there to give that hug, make us smile, and give support no matter how it is needed. She isn't just a friend, she is family."
Broussard is not one to seek the spotlight or recognition for her kindness.
"She doesn't do these things because she likes the recognition," said Konopa.
"Matter of fact, she would kill me right now, probably beat me to a pulp if she knew I was in here telling you all of this," Konopa joked. "She's not the kind of person who wants that kind of recognition. She just does it because it's the right thing to do. And those are few and far between."
Just in time for National Random Acts of Kindness day, Feb. 16, Broussard was presented a "Star Note" and "Coin of Excellence" from Mr. Charles G. (Gregg) Stevens, the AMEDD Civilian Corps Chief and Deputy Commander, U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, Health Readiness Center of Excellence, for her service as a caring leader and example to all, especially for her support to Sharon Dick.