By Summer BarkleyFebruary 27, 2016
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- Looking back on 38 years of military service, Sgt. Maj. Velma A. Lyons said some of her main reasons for continuing to serve are her love of soldering and Soldiers.
Lyons, who is the senior enlisted advisor for Army Field Support Battalion- Kuwait, enlisted in the Women's Army Corps on Jan. 11, 1978. Her initial plan to serve 20 years and go to law school changed because she found that she loved being a Soldier. Lyons entered service as a 76J, medical supply specialist, and later reclassified as a 92Z, unit supply specialist. She was on active duty until 1985 when she transferred to the Army Reserve.
"I saw the old 'Uncle Sam wants you' recruiting poster and I got excited and went in to find out more," she said.
Originally from Jolliet, Ill., Lyons came from a family of 15 children and said her mother did not believe she had enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. Her mother, she added, continued in that belief until the day the recruiter came to take her to basic training. She set a precedent as several of her siblings followed her into military service.
"I was the first of a large family to go into the military, and I'm the last to get out," she said. "Most of my WAC peers have retired, but I'm thankful and blessed to be still serving."
Lyons remembers pointed toe black combat boots, all female units during basic training, and many jobs being closed to women, but looks ahead encouragingly as she sees new possibilities.
"I'm very proud of the first women Rangers," she said. "I see new possibilities [for women]…I like how we train together now…I like the fact that combat MOS are open to women for better opportunities, and I like the fact that standards are the same across the board."
Lyons is in the midst of one of her own firsts - her first deployment. She said she had the skill set the battalion needed and the deployment was on her bucket list, calling it a 'wonderful milestone and a new horizon'. She is enthusiastic about the battalion's mission to 'receive, maintain and issue APS 5'(Army Prepositioned Stocks) and the fact that the battalion has the largest footprint in Kuwait. She noted that she spent the 38th anniversary of her enlistment while deployed to Kuwait.
"I'm not finished yet," she said. "I plan on serving my term out to October 2019. It would be a great honor to be able to do that."
Lyons is also a Department of the Army Civilian who serves as a unit administrator at 1st Medical Training Brigade, Fort Gordon, Ga.
"I see my Soldiers every day and I soldier with them on weekends," she commented.
Her next goal is to continue working with Soldiers in a program such as Wounded Warriors where she can still learn and grow.