February is Black History Month, a time to recognize the extraordinary contributions of Black Americans to the U.S. Army and the Nation. Today, roughly 90,000 Black Americans serve on Active Duty in the U.S. Army, with an additional 39,000 who serve in the Army Reserves and 52,000 in the Army National Guard.
At the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity USAMMDA, Black Americans – Active-Duty Soldiers, Veterans, Army civilians and contractors – contribute each day to the mission of developing and delivering medical devices, technologies and treatments for America’s Warfighters.
For Sgt. 1st Class Natasha Davis, U.S. Army, retired, Black History Month is a time to reflect on her career in service to the Nation, including 20 years in uniform and now as a Program Coordinator with USAMMDA’s Warfighter Brain Health Project Management Office at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Davis, born in Germany, has a family history of Army Service. Her parents, Keith and Angela Davis, met while Soldiers stationed in Germany in the 1970s. After 20 years as an Army combat medic with deployments across the world – including Afghanistan in 2004 – as a mom and as a woman, Davis has a unique and authoritative perspective on the importance of highlighting and encouraging diversity in the ranks, starting with Black History Month.
“The significance of the struggle for racial and gender equality in politics, the economy, and social development is recognized during Black History Month,” said Davis, who was born in Frankfurt but calls Columbia, South Carolina her hometown. “Black History Month serves as an opportunity to consider the numerous accomplishments of African Americans in the past. We must never let the significance of those who came before us wane as we advance toward equality, keeping in mind the significance of Black History Month, and paying tribute to all those who have fought for the dignity of all men and women.”
Davis, who retired in 2017 after 20 years in service, originally joined the Army to carry on the family tradition of service and to take advantage of the benefits Army service offers. As an African American Veteran currently helping refine health care technologies, treatments and devices for the Joint-Forces, Davis has learned the importance of leadership by example and, also, the unifying strength a diverse force fosters.
“The Army taught me to be a servant leader,” said Davis. “Having a diverse Army organization allows the USAMMDA to be valuable. A diverse force united in a common mission results in an organization that is stronger and more effective to the Warfighter they are serving.”
For Davis, who carries a smile and a no-nonsense demeanor with her wherever she goes, teamwork is key to the mission of her WBH colleagues and USAMMDA as a whole. The key to teamwork is the understanding that diversity, in all its shapes and forms, is key to the mission focus and collaborative effort that drives her personal and professional lives.
“Diversity enables people from different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives to connect, enhancing the strength of the Army,” she said. “In a team there are many people, and every person has an opinion and that adds value to the team. Remember that teamwork is not about one person. Keeping everyone involved fosters a spirit of teamwork. Diversity is not always about color. Diversity is where they are from, how they were brought up, and many other factors. There are so many people and cultures blended together [and that makes] USAMMDA a great place to work.”
For more information about the incredible contributions African Americans have made – and continue to make – to the U.S. Army, visit https://www.army.mil/blackamericans/.