ARLINGTON, Va. – A year ago this time, retired Cpt. Lauren Byrd was assigned to the Fort Benning Soldier Recovery Unit, Georgia, and serving as an intern with the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. Today, she is the National Infantry Association’s chief operations officer.
Byrd served as a docent during her yearlong Career and Educational Readiness internship at the museum. In this role, she developed and coordinated museum tours for dignitaries, foreign military officials, Medal of Honor recipients and guests and families, said George Scruggs, transition coordinator with the Fort Benning SRU and prior enlisted retired Army captain.
Byrd said that a docent normally tells the infantryman’s story, but that it has been an honor to hear it from infantrymen who were there.
The National Infantry Museum’s director, Scott A.D. Daubert, said that Byrd surpassed his expectations of the internship program while serving as his protocol officer.
“She brought refreshing ideas and initiatives to the office from day one and was a pleasure to work with,” Daubert said.
Kevin Peoples, transition coordinator with the Fort Benning SRU, said that internships are opportunities for Soldiers to be exposed to jobs and fields and decide if they would like to seek an education or career in them. It’s also a way to gain experience and learn or demonstrate skills, he said.
Byrd said that she retired from the military midyear and started her new role with the National Infantry Association in the fall of 2020. Now, her work consists of museum operations, publication of the Infantry Bugler magazine, membership program reviews and donations, Scruggs said.
History has always been an interest of hers. It was her minor in college and she wanted to be a history teacher.
“The job is perfect for me,” Byrd said. “The environment is perfect for me.”
Retired Col. Robert E. Choppa is the National Infantry Association’s president and Byrd’s supervisor. He described how Byrd became an expert in the association’s missions, systems and procedures.
“She has been a tremendous addition to our National Infantry Association team since she was hired,” Choppa said.
“The support here has been far beyond any expectation,” she said.
She encourages others to advocate for themselves, know their strengths and use them to make opportunities.
“When you excel at the small jobs, big doors will open,” Byrd said. “This big door opened and I am truly blessed.”