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 News Article

Face of Defense: Soldier Leads From the Front

By Army Staff Sgt. Toshiko Gregg
81st Regional Support Command

FORT JACKSON, S.C., June 29, 2015 – After graduating high school in 1993, Army Master Sgt. Tomeka Brown wasn’t ready to follow the crowd and head toward college. She felt as if she needed a change in her life, and she decided to join Army Reserve.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Master Sgt. Tomeka Brown approaches an obstacle at the Teamwork Development Course on Fort Jackson, S.C., April 24, 2015, during the 81st Regional Support Command's annual training. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Toshiko Gregg
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

As the 81st Regional Support Command’s human resources specialist, Brown is responsible for providing administrative support and guidance to soldiers in the southeast region, which includes reviewing and processing junior enlisted promotion packets.

She’s considered a positive influence to all her peers, military and civilian, but she is able to put her family first. Brown said she’s been able to balance her life as a single mother by her faith and also through love and support from family and friends.

“I’ve stayed in as long as I have because I have two sons that I have to do my best to build as men,” she said.

Becoming a Full-Time Soldier

Brown spent the first 10 years of her career in the Army Reserve as a traditional drilling soldier. But when she was mobilized from 2004 to 2006 at U.S. Army Reserve Command in Atlanta, she said, she realized she enjoyed being a full-time soldier and decided to go Active Guard Reserve.

“I get enjoyment out of grooming other soldiers to become better than me,” Brown said. “I enjoy the challenges [noncommissioned officers] face and overcome to obtain the rank.”

The honesty, positive attitude and energy that Brown brings to table touch everyone around her.

“Master Sergeant Brown is one of the most dedicated leaders that I know,” said Takeya O’Neal, acting chief of the 81st RSC’s full-time support military branch. “She truly believes in taking care of soldiers and the mission. She would make an excellent mentor to our younger soldiers. She most definitely leads from the front.”

Influenced by Mentors

When she was a sergeant several years ago, Brown said, she just wanted to sit around and do nothing at drill. But her mentors, retired Army Sgt. Maj. Michelle Shepard and Army Sgt. Maj. Dovie Wilson, wouldn’t allow “just sitting around” to happen.

“They taught me to never keep what I’ve learned a secret and to always give it back,” she said. “They taught me how to not allow personal feelings to get in the way of taking care of soldiers. Since I’ve been at the 81st, Mrs. Angela Moore has taught and is teaching me how to use the gift God gave me to overcome and persevere, whether it’s military or civilian life.”

By facing one goal at a time, Brown said, she has been able to achieve an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and she’s four classes shy of completing her master’s degree in human resource management. Her goal, she said, is to make sergeant major and retire with at least 30 years of service. Brown has completed the Battle Staff NCO Course, and she is on track to achieving her goal.

Three Lessons

Throughout the years, Brown said, she has learned three things: that once you set a personal and professional goal, you must do what you can to accomplish it; that fear is the acronym for “false evidence appearing real"; and that being a good leader is knowing how to listen, learn and fall back when need be, and not always being the one to be the boss.

“Every commander needs that senior NCO that gets it right the first time every time -- does the right thing when no one is watching, and gives their best to molding our upcoming leaders,” said Army Maj. Kristen Brockman, former Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander. “That is Master Sergeant Brown."

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81st Regional Support Command


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