Face of Defense: Military Service Helps Guard Soldier With Civilian Career

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. --

Army Spc. Breyonnha Chester, a resident of Philadelphia, serves as a motor transport operator here with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's Detachment 1, 1067th Transportation Company, 213th Regional Support Group.

Primarily responsible for supervising or operating wheeled vehicles to transport personnel and cargo, Chester and her fellow truck drivers form a core component of the Army's support and sustainment structure. Being able to provide that support is one element that drew her to enlisting, she said.

"My dad and grandad both served," Chester said. "I always knew growing up that joining the military and helping others was something I wanted to do."

That call to help others was at the forefront when Chester, along with other soldiers of the 213th RSG, responded in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Within 48 hours of being tasked, the soldiers mobilized and hauled relief supplies and equipment to Texas.

"I think the Pennsylvania National Guard's response to Hurricane Harvey is an amazing thing," she said. "I'm so happy volunteers from the Guard and other states are stepping up to aid Texas in a time of need."

Mission-First Focus

That mission-first focus and discipline also helps Chester in her civilian life as a mail carrier and assistant supervisor for the Newton, Pennsylvania, post office.

"Having the ability to listen well and follow instructions, but also knowing when to step up to lead is important," she said. "These skills have helped me a lot in the civilian world, especially in my position at the post office."

Though her military occupation as a truck driver differs from her civilian career, Chester said, she uses her experiences from each to better herself in both fields. "Though they're quite different jobs, I've found similarities between the two positions because I serve in a leadership role in both," she explained.

At the post office Chester is an assistant supervisor, and in her military capacity she serves as a team leader.

"I have several lower enlisted soldiers in my team I'm responsible for," she said. "I serve as a leader for new soldiers entering the unit. I try to use the skills and lessons I've learned from both aspects of my life -- civilian and military -- to improve my leadership abilities and performance in each position."

And that's all part of ensuring the balance between civilian and military roles, she said.

"As citizen-soldiers, it takes a lot for someone to put their personal life on hold and be ready to assist at a moment's notice," Chester said. "I'm proud to call these people my battle buddies."