By Anthony R. MayneSeptember 23, 2019
It was a time honored scene that you would see at various places around the world on Army forts, camps and forward operation bases, the change of command ceremony.
Lt. Col. Tanya E. Simmons assumed command as Battalion Commander of U.S. Army Pacific Support Unit, Japan Detachment, on August 18.
What made this event unique, is not only that Simmons is a commander, but she is also a Program Analyst for the Japan Engineer District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Okinawa and a military spouse.
"For me, taking command was a humbling experience," said Simmons. "Number one, to be selected because there are so many that are a part of the process, but few are selected. Secondly, the Army Reserve has entrusted me with the responsibility of leading a select group of Soldiers, it is very humbling."
JED Commander Col. Thomas J. Verell Jr. congratulated Simmons on her assumption of command.
"Taking battalion command is such a monumental moment in the career of an Army officer," said Verell. "It is such a great accomplishment. It shows that the U.S. Army has placed special trust in you to lead the treasure of this nation, its Soldiers."
Taking command of a battalion adds to the challenges that Simmons faces on a daily basis. As a Program Analyst who assesses execution against income of S & A (Supervision and Administration) for district construction project oversight activities, Simmons has a big part in the accomplishment of the district mission.
JED is the Department of Defense's design and construction agent in Japan and the projects and programs the district manages increases military readiness throughout the Indo-Pacific region and improves the quality of life for the military, civilians and their families in Japan and Okinawa.
"It is a challenge finding the right balance between civilian job, reserve obligations, both during and outside of work, and family," said Simmons. "As a civilian employee, it is difficult finding balance just between work and your family alone, then adding another element to that as an Army Reserve leader, a battalion commander, adds to the balancing act."
"I'm thankful for the unwavering support that JED has offered me throughout my career, it has not gone unnoticed," she added. "My experience as an Army Reservist and working at JED has been positive and gratifying. More specifically, leadership's cooperation and understanding of the Army Reserve strategy and contributions to our nation, as warfighters during times of peace and war."
Lastly, she has to balance time and support of her family with her other responsibilities.
"I am an active duty spouse," said Simmons. "I pack my bags and move where we have to go because of his orders, and that is actually what brought me to Camp Zama and Japan District the first time in 2010. Then here it is 2018, again a PCS to Japan as a result of my husband's orders to take battalion command of the 835th Transportation Battalion in Okinawa."
Having two battalion commanders under one roof is a benefit to Simmons and her husband.
"We learn and grow from each other's experiences," said Simmons. "We learn more because of the differences in the (active versus reserve component) environments that we are in. I learn how to deal with some issues from his experiences and he learns how to deal with situations from my experiences. We do have these conversations on a regular basis, its makes for a good time to get out, walk on the boardwalk and talk. Our conversations are definitely valuable for us both."
Battalion commander, Army spouse, mom of a toddler and an Army Civilian, all require time and effort and Simmons realizes the challenge she has in front of her.
"It is important to make sure we find that balance in order to survive," said Simmons. "While it is a challenge, there is a way to actually overcome it, but we have to make a conscience effort to do so or it will actually take over."