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NEWS | Sept. 14, 2020

National Guard Soldier discusses pride of service

By Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Szoke JFHQ Public Affairs

Every Virginia National Guard Soldier plays a part in ensuring mission success and for Spc. Silvia Cavalier, an 88M Motor Transport Operator, recognizing her impact and the impact of her unit was easy.

“Basically, my job is to get supplies and items from one place to another as soon as possible to provide aid to others,” Cavalier said. “When we have these missions, I feel excited and valued and, once finished, I feel very accomplished about myself and my comrades.”

Cavalier, a Virginia-native, joined the active duty Army when she was 22. Back then, she wasn’t so sure of herself.

“I went to basic with the mentality that I wasn’t going to make it, that I was just going to fail and then have to work even harder to pay for college on my own,” said Cavalier. “I knew my family saw me as a small, too-skinny and timid little girl trying to accomplish something impossible for herself; I could just see it in their faces.”

Despite her doubts, Cavalier promised herself that she would at least try. During training, she said she struggled to keep up with everyone around her, but no matter how sore or tired or mentally exhausted she was, she never gave up. Instead, she took it one day at a time until she earned her moment on the parade field for graduation.

“Imagine the immense happiness and sheer proudness I felt for myself when I graduated,” Cavalier said. “That was my favorite, most successful memory of my time in the military.”

Upon graduating from basic and advanced training, she was stationed at Camp Stanley, South Korea, for a year before going to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It was there she met her husband, became a mother and decided to move back to Virginia and transition into the National Guard to continue her military service while being able to be more present for her young son.

“He’s got me wrapped around his finger big time,” Cavalier joked. “But I still wanted to serve because I feel very proud to be in the military.”

Cavalier has been assigned to the Emporia-based 1710th since March 2019 and is scheduled to attend the U.S. Army’s Basic Leader Course next spring. Her leaders in her new unit are happy to have as part of the team.

“Ever since Spc. Cavalier came to the 1710th from active duty, she has had an outstanding work ethic and positive attitude that contributes to her platoon’s success,” said 1st Sgt. Holly Harris, Cavalier’s first sergeant at the 1710th. “Her professionalism and ability to motivate her peers led to her selection to be promoted to sergeant in the 1710th. She will be an excellent non-commissioned officer and I’m proud to have her in our unit.”

Cavalier says she plans to stay in the National Guard until she retires and is currently using the benefits of her service in the National Guard to go to college, an expense she said she wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. Today, she’s about three classes away from earning an associate degree in general studies, which will prepare her for her next goal, to enroll in a radiology program.  

“Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have joined the Army straight out of high school,” said Cavalier. “I would be closer to my retirement goals and could possibly be closer to having a master’s degree by now. I feel that I could’ve helped my family out financially and could essentially be a little further along in life and my career by now. But everything happens for a reason and regardless of everything that I’ve done, I’m content where I am.”

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