FORT BENNING, GA – “I made a lot of sacrifices to show my children what hard work, persistence and dedication look like.”
Martin Army Community Hospital Troop Command Sgt. Maj. Shavonda Devereaux certainly demonstrates the grit of a true leader. Despite working fulltime, Devereaux started pursuing a PhD in Public Health in December 2013.
“As a wife and mother of three beautiful kids, I would go to work for 10 hours. Rotate picking my kids up from daycare with my husband. Cook and stay up until one in the morning most nights writing and studying while everyone slept,” said Devereaux. “There were plenty of days that I only slept three to four hours just to get up for PT (physical training) and I repeated this cycle for years.”
This grueling schedule paid off as Devereaux graduated Walden University in July 2019, with a PhD in Public Health, concentrating in epidemiology. She studied factors contributing to high readmissions for congestive heart failure among African Americans for her dissertation.
“I chose to study epidemiology because I have always been intrigued with factors of disease,” explained Devereaux. “Most importantly who is affected by diseases the most and why.”
Not content to rest on that academic accomplishment, Devereaux is currently pursuing CEPH (certified in public health) accreditation.
“It took me five and a half years to complete my degree,” said Devereaux. “I enjoy learning and believe I will always look to challenge myself. My motivation comes from wanting to disprove the status quo.”
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Devereaux to lead Troop Command at Fort Benning. She actually spent a majority of her childhood here and worked as a medic at BMACH, at the beginning of her Army career. Devereaux’s ties to Benning run deep.
“My father is a retired Airborne Soldier, 11C, Indirect Fire Infantryman. He was stationed here at Benning for seven years,” shared Devereaux. “”I attended Wilson Elementary and Faith Middle School.
“My husband is an 11B, Infantryman, and he retired here at Fort Benning. I was also stationed right here at Martin Army Community Hospital, back in 2006.”
The South Carolina native joined the Army in June 2000, to gain a sense of independence. Her favorite duty station to date turned out to be one nobody wanted.
“I served as the Division Surgeon Cell NCOIC (noncommissioned officer in charge) for 1st Theater Sustainment Command, at Fort Knox, Kentucky. I was the senior medic and the only medic, to include a surgeon,” explained Devereaux. “It took some time to get used to not having medical peers to my left or right. However, this assignment provided me an opportunity to reflect back on the days as a young medic managing an aid station. Only this time, it was an entire organization.
“This assignment was vacant for six months because no one wanted to be assigned here. These are the assignments I tell Soldiers to go for. The reason no one wanted it is the very reason I did.”
Thankfully, her time at BMACH as Troop Sergeant Major was not an exercise in embracing the suck to build character, awareness and lessons learned.
“I am responsible for assisting Troop Commander Lt. Col. Chris Pase in the discipline, health, safety and welfare of Soldiers. Favorite thing about my job is providing mentorship and guidance … waking up every day with a purpose to serve the Soldiers in the organization.”
Devereaux will serve as Command Sgt. Maj. of Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital at Fort Polk, come August. Until then, she will spend each day imparting these words of wisdom to her Soldiers.
“Never back down from the challenging positions or assignments. Go toward the very things most people turn away from,” advised Devereaux. “Be purposeful, present and deliberate in everything that you do!”