By Ms. Brittany Bartholomew (AMC)April 6, 2011
MILAN, Tenn. - On Thursday, March 31, 2011, Brig. Gen. Robin Akin, commander for the 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) of Fort Knox, Ky., visited Milan High School in honor of Women's History Month.
As Lt. Col. Maria Eoff, commander for Milan Army Ammunition Plant, described to the audience of high school seniors, Akin is not only a Soldier, but a Soldier's wife and a mother of two.
Eoff further stated that Akin is "one of the finest senior warriors" of today's military.
Akin, in turn, explained to the students a general officer's role in today's Army. She explained that, above all, GOs are leaders. She also explained that the United States has 22 female GOs, of whom she is proud to be one.
"I never thought about being a woman. I thought about being a part of the team," she reflected, addressing the theme of the day's assembly.
Akin expressed her strong belief in having a team, whether it be a spouse, a family, or a group of friends. She referred to the common issue of failed marriages, telling the students that a team's strength comes from the courage and strong will of its members.
"The four of us are the best team in the whole wide world, because we wanted to stay together," Akin said about her husband and two children, regarding the long absences a military family must endure.
Akin also addressed the sobering subject of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. She then showed a moving video, filled with images of devastation, compassion, and hope from the recovery efforts of both the military and non-governmental organizations.
"[My team and I] helped supply over 530,000 families with food," Akin stated.
Akin described her experience in Haiti as one of the best missions she has been on in her 29-year career.
The general then shared another, more personal inspirational story with her young audience. Relating to her listeners, Akin described her childhood.
"I am a small-town girl," Akin, a native of Nashville, Tenn., related. "[You and I] grew up the same way."
"Like many kids today, I grew up in a broken home," she continued.
Akin impressed upon the audience that she was the only member of her family to graduate from high school, stating that "school was the most important ingredient in my life."
She explained that her siblings "didn't have the courage" to achieve their diplomas.
The general completed her speech by encouraging the students to have a five-year plan.
She stated, "In five years, you will be 24 or 25. You can't look back; you have to look forward."
Describing her college experience-a part of her five-year plan when she was in high school-Akin remembered, "I gave blood to get $20 or $25."
Akin described how she had to work throughout her college career in order to pay her tuition.
She told the students to develop "work ethic." She defined this term as doing work, "not to satisfy others, but to satisfy yourself."
Akin left her audience with the picture of a successful woman who is paving the way for others to succeed, and who is, as Eoff stated during the presentation, "ensur[ing] our daughters have no limits on their dreams."