FORT PICKETT, Va. – Joining the Virginia Army National Guard in 2018 was a decision Spc. Kyndall Robinson did not take lightly. Initially interested in the Air Force, Robinson took a year and a half to research and consider her options.
Her supportive, military-oriented family provided help where they could. With a stepfather retired from the U.S. Air Force, a mother working for the U.S. Navy for more than 32 years and a brother currently serving in the Navy, Robinson had several knowledgeable guides to help her decide which military branch to join, although it was ultimately the testimony of a close family friend who convinced her to join the Army National Guard.
Robison worked in mental health services with elementary school children before joining the National Guard as a 42A Human Resources Specialist. She realized if she wanted to use her psychology degree to its fullest extent, she needed more than just a bachelor’s degree.
“Psychology and mental health are about people. Learning about people, brushing elbows with different cultures. [The Guard] opens me up to different opportunities to get around and get out and meet new people, learn new skillsets on the civilian side [to use] when I’m working with people from different cultural backgrounds,” she said.
In addition to pursuing a master’s degree in psychology, Robinson plans to complete Officer Candidate School, the military course designed to transition enlisted Soldiers to officers. Since she already had her degree, Robinson attended OCS shortly after she enlisted but decided to disenroll.
“[OCS] was definitely eye opening. It helped me see a lot of areas where I was weak and where I did need to grow up a little bit and mature and learn the foundation of the military before trying to be the go-to person without knowing what I’m doing,” she explained.
When pressed on what else she has learned about herself since joining the National Guard, Robinson commented, “I’ve learned I’m not as aggressive about some things as I should be. I can know something but am not always the first to say what the answer is or try just because I’m a little nervous about being incorrect.”
While supporting the presidential inauguration, Spc. Robinson had a confidence boosting moment when she attended a top-level planning meeting at the request of her supervisor.
As Robinson explained, this was her first experience with senior leaders and the higher planning process. Despite being nervous about her junior rank and lack of military experience, she provided meaningful input and found she knew the answers when leaders had questions.
For Robinson, inclusion and diversity at any level is important. She explained her Virginia OCS leaders were primarily African American or female. She also mentioned meeting a general in the Maryland National Guard who was part of the OCS command leadership whose staff was primarily female. Robinson said seeing African Americans and females in leadership positions resonates with her, to know it’s possible for her to reach those levels too.
February is African American History Month and this month, the Virginia National Guard is highlighting stories from the Soldiers, Airmen, VDF members and civilians who make up our organization.