Spc. Darius Ballard is a 68E dental specialist assigned to the Dental Clinic Command at Fort Lee, Va. (U.S. Army photo by T. Anthony Bell)
Spc. Darius Ballard is a 68E dental specialist assigned to the Dental Clinic Command at Fort Lee, Va. (U.S. Army photo by T. Anthony Bell) (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, Va. (Feb. 24, 2021) --

Name: Spc. Darius Ballard, Dental Clinic Command, Fort Lee, Va.

Hometown: White Lake, North Carolina

Age: 24

Time in service: Four and a half years

Military occupational specialty: 68E – dental specialist. According to www.goarmy.com, dental specialists assist Army dentists in the examination and treatment of service members’ teeth. They help prepare for operations by selecting and arranging instruments and taking patient’s dental impressions and X-rays. They also manage the dental offices and patient records, perform preventive cleanings, take the patient’s blood pressure and pulse, and help administer anesthesia when needed.

Strengths: “I’m always cheerful and try to be in a good mood by not letting petty things bother me. Of course, I’m serious when I need to be.”

Weaknesses: “Sometimes, I’m too nice. I’m not a people pleaser, but I try to avoid conflict as much as possible. If there’s a problem, I still tackle it; just in a different way.”

Pastimes: “I’m a pastor (ordained minister) in the AME Zion Church. I was called to the ministry at 16 and started preaching when I was 17 at Saint Stephen AME Zion Church in Garland, N.C. I received my first pastoral appointment last year, and I’m on my second one now … in Harrells, N.C. Generally, it would be an every-week commute, but we’re virtual right now. I also like to hunt and fish.”

Favorite scripture: “Jeremiah 29:11, ‘For I know the plans I have for you’ said the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you, not harm you. Plans to give you good hope and a future.’”

Worst fear: “Failing.”

Even as a man of God? “Yes, because we all know at some point we’re going to fail. The part I haven’t grasped is how hard failure can be. There’s going to be times in our lives when we try to influence our flock to not fear this or that, but sometimes you are preaching to yourself.”

Pet peeves: “The Golden Rule – ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ I could never understand how people could treat others any kind of way – as my grandmother would say – and expect some great things to happen to them. You definitely have to have a heart and mind to do the right thing. People who don’t care about others and who are very selfish in their motives and ways really bother me.”

Dream car: “A Bentley Continental, and I don’t know why I want one. I also love trucks.”

Describe the music on your playlist: “I like older gospel, so I (listen to) Marvin Sapp, Fred Hammond and John P. Key, who is my favorite.”

If you won the lottery … “The first thing I’d do is pay my tithes. The second thing is pay off any debts. The third thing is to build a major homeless shelter. ”

One person you admire: “My grandmother. She was a very strong woman. When I was 15, my grandfather … actually passed away in my arms. The morning afterward, I saw my grandmother in the kitchen crying, holding her hands together. She had separated herself from us, had that moment, and from that day forward I never saw her break, meaning there was still a family needing to be raised and things that still had to be done. She was the only child to her parents, and she had only one child and my brother and I. She was now the matriarch. I look at her life – she got married at 20, had a child, paid for her house, went to college – and how she made a way. If it wasn’t for my grandmother, I probably wouldn’t be in the place I’m at now.”

One life-changing event: “The death of my grandfather. He had a massive heart attack, and I definitely – for a short time in my life – tried to do everything my grandfather did. He was a plumber, so I learned plumbing. He was a firefighter, so I won firefighter of the year. He was a great hunter, and I loved to go hunting. My first vehicle was his last truck. I still have it today. … In 1992 or ’94, my grandfather had a major stroke and heart attack. He was 40 years old. With one arm, my grandfather changed me and my brother’s diapers, taught us how to shoot guns and how to tie our shoes. He did not allow his disability to stop him from being a man; from being the figure we needed in our lives. So, the moment of losing him was a defining moment that said ‘I taught you all these things, but now it’s time for you to step up and use them.’”

What has surprised you about the ministry? “How much more – and I’m speaking spiritually – of an attack there is on your life. You will go through things just because of the position you hold. In order for you to preach the gospel, sometimes God has to allow you to experience it.”

The celebrity or historical figure you’d like to meet: “(Actor) Morris Chestnut – reason being people say I look like him (chuckle). I want to see what our face-to-face response would be like. ”

Why you joined the Army: “I wanted a different outlook on life and a way to pay for college. I also had some growing up to do. I’m not going to say I didn’t have the discipline because my mother was tougher than any drill sergeant I know, but I needed something else … needed to figure out what I needed to do with my life.”

What you would change about the Army if you were the chief of staff: “The promotion system. The way it is now, you can pass a PT test in some jobs and become a leader at the E-5-or-6 level. That is your initial interaction with leadership that can define a young Soldier’s career. ”

What you would tell your children about wearing the uniform: “I would tell them the Army is what you make it. Don’t allow anyone to define your career for you.”

Best thing about the Army: “The camaraderie – Soldiers are a family like none other. You meet so many different people from so many backgrounds, and everybody comes together to make a single unit.’’

Where you see yourself in five years: “Prayerfully, in the process of owning a funeral home, being a doctoral graduate and having at least one more child.”