JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va.- (Mar. 27, 2023) Part four of U.S. Army Drill Sergeants sharing their story in the spirit of Women’s History Month concludes with the 2022 TRADOC Drill Sergeant of the Year (DSOY) sharing her story of overcoming grief, depression, suicidal thoughts, and perseverance throughout her career.
2022 TRADOC Drill Sergeant of the Year (DSOY) Krista Osborne, native of Albuquerque, New Mexico joined the Army in 2014. Before her Army enlistment, Osborne was a young teenager enjoying life with friends and family and trying to figure out her next few steps in life.
At 16, her life would take an unexpected turn. As a high school junior, Osborne lost her father in a fatal car accident. This tragic incident led her to be consumed by grief and depression. Osborne says that she dealt with thoughts of suicide, self-harm and saw no future for herself. Osborne looked within herself, by doing so she realized something had to be done. Self-reflection created the initial phase to overcome most of her grief.
By the time she was 18 years old, Osborne saw the Army as the first step toward positivity. She enlisted as a Motor Transport Operator, trained at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and went on to her first assignment. While stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, Osborne sought mentorship by her first line supervisor, an influential person who made a profound and lifechanging impact.
Osborne recalls then-Staff Sgt. Hurtado, now Warrant Officer One Hurtado as the leader, from early on, who laid the foundation. Hurtado was the sterling example in words, actions, and set the bar as to what a professional Soldier ought to be, know and do.
“My most challenging assignment was Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri serving as a drill sergeant,” Osborne said. “It was challenging to go from my daily operations as a Motor Transport Operator, to then go back to the basics of combat skills, having to re-learn everything, break bad habits and coach & teach new recruits on basic combat skills.”
Osborne expressed that as a young noncommissioned officer (then-Sgt./E-5) she felt that she lacked confidence. “I knew being a drill sergeant would make me better by taking me out of my comfort zone, allowing me to face challenges and grow,” Osborne added.
According to Osborne, rank was not a concern, trainees saw her as a drill sergeant, the consummate leader, coach, and mentor. Trainees often came to her with serious problems such as thoughts of suicide, harassment, abuse, low self-esteem, financial issues, and family concerns.
“Some of these problems I never dealt with before,” Osborne says. She recalls her time being a drill sergeant as a confidence builder, rewarding and challenging.
Of the challenges young trainees brought to Osborne, Osborne pulled from her personal challenges she experienced to be a better coach. “I went through a divorce while overseas in Kuwait,” she said. Though she lost motivation and sight of who she was, Osborne adds that by going to therapy allowed her to see herself clearer. “Therapy allowed me to capitalize on my strengths, and the strengths of those around me,” Osborne said. This led to where she is now, happily married to her current wife, Franchesca, and daughter, Maddielyn.
By June 2022, Osborne sought to challenge herself by entering the Fort Leonard Wood 2022 Drill Sergeant of the Year Competition. Osborne who stands at 5’4, 130 pounds had to compete against her counterparts, though they dwarfed her in physical statue, she matched with mental aptitude and toughness to be selected as the overall winner.
Each level of the competition at Fort Leonard Wood, Osborne sought mentorship and guidance by those who believed in her.
“Command Sgt. Major (Randolph) Delapena believed in me and even on days when I did not believe in myself didn’t allow for me to make excuses or feed into the stigma as to why I couldn’t be a real competitor,” Osborne said. “He saw me for who I was as a drill sergeant and pushed me to remain disciplined as I prepared for the competition.”
By September 2022, Osborne went on to compete for the TRADOC Drill Sergeant of the Year Competition. The four-day physically, mentally, and grueling competition pitted her against 13 Drill Sergeants of the Year from their respective Centers of Excellence. Osborne became the fifth woman to ever win the active-duty TRADOC Drill Sergeant of the Year, in its 50-year history.
“It is the greatest honor to be selected as TRADOC Drill Sergeant of the Year, I worked so hard to represent not just female drill sergeants but females across the Army,” Osborne said. “It’s not just for me but for all women looking to compete.”
For young women looking to join the Army, either for one term or career, Osborne says that you must believe in yourself and have patience along the way. “It’s okay not to know what you want to do with your life or have a plan, the most important thing is to start somewhere,” she said. The emphasis of getting started is key, “It takes a lot of hard work and some failures to get there, this is where discipline and resiliency appears,” Osborne added.
“You are never alone, reach out when you need help, the world can be tough and you can’t get through it alone,” Osborne said. “You need to seek out a mentor, a family member, or friend that you can go to in times of need, remain motived and disciplined and you can achieve your goals.”
Osborne set a few milestones she’d like to accomplish in her professional and personal life. Her career goals are to graduate from the U.S. Army Airborne and Air Assault Schools, continue her projected promotion to the rank of sergeant major and honorably retire. In her personal life, Osborne would like to have a child of her own, retire and settle down in New Mexico, where she and her wife are from. In retirement, Osborne plans to continue to serve the youth and give back to the community as a schoolteacher.
Historical TRADOC Drill Sergeant of the Year competitions: https://usacimt.tradoc.army.mil/dsy.html