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NEWS | May 12, 2023

New VNG NCO talks experience from pandemic to promotion

By Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

In less than three years, Sgt. Khiyon Bond completed high school during the peak of the global pandemic, joined the National Guard, completed basic and advanced training, deployed to Kosovo and, most recently, became one of the Virginia Army National Guard’s newest noncommissioned officers. Now, as a newly-minted sergeant looking forward to his 21st birthday, Bond works full-time at the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division as a 42A Human Resources Specialist. In his short time in the National Guard, he’s experienced more than many, but what drove him to enlist was, in part, boredom.
In 2020, Bond was a senior at Matthew Fontaine Maury High School in Norfolk, Virginia. As COVID restrictions shuttered his high school, Bond, like the rest of his peers, moved to remote learning and marked the end of his high school career without fanfare. Military service wasn’t a total unknown for him - he had a grandparent and a couple of uncles who served - so, plagued by pandemic-induced boredom, he did some research.
“Everything was sluggish, there wasn’t anything going on because of COVID,” Bond said. If he was going to join the military, he reasoned, he wanted a career field that would help him achieve his goals and help make him a more competitive hire. “I wanted to advance myself in a different way. I wanted to be able to put myself in a position to where I get to learn more and build my resume a little bit.”
Even before enlisting, Bond knew he wanted a career in human resources. His plan was to go to Old Dominion University and major in management, with a minor in human resources. He figured serving as a 42A in the National Guard would be an excellent way to bolster his resume and, on Aug. 6, 2020, Bond enlisted and officially started his military career as a private in the Virginia Army National Guard. A few months later, in October, Bond shipped out and completed basic and advanced training, returning home in late March 2021. He knows his training experience was unique due to COVID restrictions and he feels like he missed out a little bit, but recognizes the necessity of keeping everyone safe and healthy.
“They handled it well, like people getting sick,” Bond said of his initial military training experience.
After his initial training, there was no break for Bond. He scored a temporary full-time job with the Virginia Army National Guard and ended up on the list to deploy to Kosovo with the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of the NATO-led Kosovo Force Regional Command-East.
“I really wasn’t supposed to be on this deployment, but I had a great conversation with leaders and everything lined up for me,” Bond said, explaining that, when a 42A slot opened on the deployment roster, Bond was offered the opportunity to take it and he did. Going into the deployment, Bond thought, “I’m going to do my best on this deployment. It’s my first deployment and I’ve got to make a good impression.”
In January 2022, after completing pre-deployment training in Virginia and after less than a year and a half in the National Guard, Bond started his first deployment. First, he went to Fort Bliss, Texas, to meet final training objectives, then Germany, and finally, Kosovo.
“The deployment was great, I had a great team,” Bond said. On the deployment, Bond worked for Maj. Kim Wynn, now the battalion commander for Virginia Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. On the deployment, she ran the brigade S1 shop, and Bond credits her with making his deployment experience such a good one. “I say I lucked out with my first deployment. It was a great process, I was in a pretty chill place, I just had to get work done and that was it.”
While deployed, Bond took advantage of the opportunity to travel as the mission allowed. With a handful of passes and a few days of leave, Bond traveled to places like Prague, Italy and Greece.
“It was a great trip,” Bond said.
In addition to traveling, learning more about his career field and increasing his military knowledge, the deployment also provided Bond the chance to learn a little patience. Most of the time, Bond said, military service is pretty great. Other times, he said, you look around and think, “ok, this sucks.” Patience is what has helped him get through the less than stellar moments of his military career.
“Things aren’t always going to be good in the Army. You have to be pretty patient, you have to hunt the good stuff,” Bond said, explaining that, ultimately, he’s thankful for the opportunities his few short years in the military have provided.
“In my almost three years that I’ve been in the National Guard, I’ve met so many types of people, done so many different things in a really short amount of time, and some people haven’t done any of that, especially travel-wise,” he said.
Bond returned home from Kosovo with the rest of the 116th IBCT in December 2022. The next month, to kick off 2023, he headed out again, this time for the U.S. Army’s Basic Leader Course, a three-week course designed to prepare junior Soldiers for junior leadership roles. Before attending the course, Bond was excited about his upcoming promotion to sergeant, excited for the next phase. But, BLC taught him that becoming an NCO is more than just a promotion.
“I like the fact that BLC puts you in the mind frame, of, ‘ok, you’re no longer a junior enlisted Soldier, you should be an example now that you have more responsibilities,’” Bond said. “Now Soldiers walk up to me and they’re looking at me as a role model and asking me the questions and I’m the person that they look to now, so it made me take it a lot more seriously than I was.”
With so much experience already gained, Bond is still looking toward his future. He’ll start working toward his degree in the fall, and says he doesn’t plan on finishing his military career as an enlisted Soldier. Within the next few years, once he meets his education goals, he says he’d like to consider a career as either a warrant officer or a commissioned officer. Whatever comes next for Bond, he says he’s thankful, most of all, for the leaders who have helped shaped his career thus far.
“One of the biggest things is, I’m grateful for the leadership, especially Maj. Wynn,” Bond said. “She always checks up on me, even though technically I’m not her Soldier anymore. I feel like good leadership is very important, and I’m grateful I’ve had that.”

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