FORT HOOD, Texas - 1st Sgt. Amanda Hoover describes Capt. Rosa Meeks as the Yang to her Yin – the perfect balance for a first sergeant and commandant who are carving out their place in history as the first-ever command team of the People First Center here, never mind the fact that they are also one of very few female command teams in the Army.
“When we first discovered that we’d be working together, we did the right thing and just sat down and talked about our dos and don’ts. How do you communicate effectively and how do you expect me to communicate? Things you think should just happen, but they usually don’t,” Meeks explained. “I think that’s the key to our success, sitting down and talking about our expectations and setting our rules of engagement.”
With 10 years of experience in the Army, Hoover admitted that it is often difficult to find a female battle buddy who balances out one’s own qualities. With Meeks, however, Hoover has found that unique dynamic.
“We don’t argue, we talk things out. We always communicate, we always have each other’s back and at the end of the day, she’s my confidant. We have those conversations that I don’t think I’ve ever had before,” Hoover added. “Command Sgt. Maj. (Caron) Hill, the HHBN (Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion) III Corps command sergeant major, was responsible for our pairing. She wanted the right people in place for the success of the center. She (had) foreseen the potential of our pairing. I am grateful for her trusting in my leadership and her constant mentorship.”
Becoming the first command team for a first-of-its-kind organization has had its challenges, but they said they work through it together. Both leaders described building the organization from the ground up has been both fun and challenging.
“There are no SOPs (standard operating procedures), there are no ‘We used to do it this way,’” Meeks said. “It’s fun in that you get to write history the way you envision it, based on the commander’s intent, but at the same time, it’s difficult because there is no roadmap to show you what worked well and what didn’t.”
“It’s all about adapting, overcoming and really taking something that wasn’t there and creating it from scratch. It’s really awesome to see, but very, very challenging,” Hoover added.
With challenges come rewards, and with every passing class, Hoover and Meeks can see firsthand the difference they make on the Soldiers who have gone through the course so far.
“I always say that day one is the hardest day of every course and day three is the most rewarding. On day one, the Soldiers don’t know what they’re entering, but by day three, you see them building cohesive teams and they’re excited. You can tell that they’ve really learned something,” Hoover shared. “It’s probably the most rewarding position I’ve ever had.”
With hopes for a People First Center on every Army installation around the globe one day, Meeks said she wants to look back on this time when she’s “old and gray” and tell her future grandchildren that she was the first-ever commandant of the unit that made this happen.
Meanwhile, Hoover’s goal is to one day lead a formation as a sergeant major. She said she always tells her Soldiers that when she looks at a position, she is looking at where she can make the biggest impact.
“The reason I want to be a sergeant major is so I can impact the largest amount of people possible. The fact that we’re able to impact the entire III Corps footprint with what we’re doing-one Soldier at a time-is impossibly rewarding,” she added. “We truly want to embody the term People First. I always say, 'People First, People Always.'”
Meeks said she cannot begin to describe how much Hoover has impacted the People First Center. Describing herself as the “yes man,” the commandant said Hoover keeps her focused and grounded in reality, her Yin to Meeks’ Yang.
“I tell her quite often that there are no words I could put in an NCOER (noncommissioned officer evaluation report) that would dictate or even help someone envision how much she helps me and how much she makes this center work,” Meeks said about Hoover. “I thank God for her every single day and I tell her as often as I can, ‘Thank you from the center for what you do for the Soldiers.’”