FORT DETRICK, Md. — Hailing from the small township of Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania, Dana Bal came of age at a fortuitous time for a future Army officer, graduating from Hazleton Area High School in 2004 and accepting a U.S. Army ROTC scholarship to attend the University of Pittsburgh. Aiming to join the Army Medical Service Corps as a pharmacist, Bal graduated and earned her commission in 2008 before being awarded a Health Professions Scholarship Program educational delay to complete pharmacy school.
Bal graduated and became an Army pharmacist in 2010. In the last 12 and a half years, she has served in various roles across the world, from Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington to Baghdad, Iraq and the Republic of Korea to Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Currently, Bal serves as part of the Program Management-Acquisition Internship Program and as assistant product manager with the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity’s Warfighter Brain Health Project Management Office at Fort Detrick.
Bal credits the Army for the breadth of her experiences, and the leadership skills learned during her time in uniform.
“I joined to be a part of something bigger, to be part of a team, and the Army has really exposed me to a variety of experiences and opportunities,” said Bal. “I’ve only served for 12-and-a-half years now, and the amount of travel that I’ve had, the leadership that I have learned over the years, I don’t think any other organization would have been able to provide that for me.”
Bal and her husband, Josh, are dual military parents to daughter, Maren, and son, Caleb. The challenges of parenting are compounded by the commitments of military service, according to Bal. However, the Army Values she lives by stand as guideposts to her success as a mother, wife and as an Army leader.
“Family is my number one priority — as dual military parents, it is my and my husband’s goal to instill good values in our children and lead by example,” said Bal. “The Army Values are part of my identity both on and off duty. I believe that there is not one value that is more important than any other value, they are equally important in their own ways.”
As part of the Warfighter Brain Health PMO, Bal collaborates with nearly two dozen other experts and specialists developing treatments and technologies for America’s warfighters. For Bal, the building blocks of success as an individual and member of a dynamic research and development team are the values Soldiers carry with them every day.
“For me, the Army Values are the foundation on which organizations and teams become successful and continuously improve,” said Bal. “When the Army Values are used holistically, a sense of trust is built within your team, division, organization and family. The Army Values provide me with a sense of purpose and fulfillment. They guide me in the decisions I make and help set the expectations I have for myself and others with an understanding that both our successes and failures here directly impact the warfighter and our nation.”
With more than a decade’s experience and the skills and leadership abilities honed through service across the Army’s medical development enterprise, Bal offers sage advice for those aspiring to follow in her boot prints. The path may not be easy, but challenges and challenging times are the whetting stone that sharpen personal and professional acumen, according to Bal.
“Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. In other words, embrace discomfort and challenge yourself and others to do hard things because these are the experiences from which you learn and grow. Don’t let others determine your purpose or ‘true north’ for you. Figure out what is important to you and use that to guide your decisions and career as both an individual and leader. If you're considering serving, there are various and unique experiences and learning opportunities made available to you through military service, along with the pride and honor gained from being part of the less than 1% of the population who currently serve or have served in the most powerful military force in the world.”