In every family, there are instinctive roles that everyone fulfills — the leader, the jokester, the nurturer.
During her 30 years of service, Brig. Gen. Twanda Young has instinctively stepped into many of these positions while watching young soldiers grow with her.
“With how the army takes care of its own, there is no greater ohana, as I would call it — family that you can belong to,” Young said. “[There’s no greater] kinship and fellowship you can be a part of.”
As the deputy commanding general of the Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Young has worked to build her military family and be the kind of leader she set out to be.
“[Young] hasn’t really changed,” said Col. Delwyn Merkerson, Young’s coworker of 15 years. “The work, her personality, her caring for the people that work with her and work for her has always been the same over the years.
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“Gen. Young has what I call an Energizer Bunny. She has a motor that just doesn’t stop. She works long, and she works hard.”
Currently in the army, there are only 139 brigadier generals serving active duty compared to the 4,098 colonels, the immediate rank before brigadier general, according to data from the Department of Defense.
As one of only 13 women who hold the uncommon rank of brigadier general, Young has seen her share of hardships over the years, and one particular instance stood out to Young early in her army career.
“When I initially came [into the U.S. Army,] I had a leader that was not supportive of women being in the military and not supportive of my upward mobility of moving within the ranks,” Young said.
Since then, the 1992 Ball State graduate has held jobs ranging from an executive officer at the company level to working at the Pentagon three times as a staff officer.
“[Ball State helped] strengthen my own abilities and capabilities of leading in a better manner because it broadened my aperture of thought,” Young said.
For her current job at the Human Resources Command, Young and her staff handle the distribution and strategic placement of soldiers for the army.
“Our job is to put the right person in the right place at the right time,” Young said.
Young also said she helps take care of military families, even after their serving family member has died, by ensuring these families have a “sustained livelihood.”
While Young said she enjoys what she is doing in life right now, in the future she said she hopes to do more work in her community and have an impact on its members.
Contact Scott Fleener with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.