For Selina Wilbur, Veterans Day is an opportunity to appreciate our freedoms and be thankful for the sacrifices made by so many Americans over the years.
Wilbur, who is assistant vice president of the Baylor Improvement Group at Baylor College of Medicine, attended the U.S. Academy at West Point from 1989-1993 and served for a decade as an officer in the U.S. Army active reserve.
In honor of Veterans Day, Wilbur reflects on what inspired her service, challenges she overcame, and the lessons she has learned along the way.
Q: Can you talk about your military journey? What inspired you to attend West Point?
A: My family did not have any military background, but I was recruited for soccer and when I visited, I fell in love with the academy. The deciding factor was I really wanted to do something challenging and completely different – and it definitely was that!
Q: What was the nature of your service after graduation?
A: After graduation, I joined the Quartermaster branch of the U.S. Army, helping to sustain and distribute supplies such as food, fuel, bullets, etc. I did my officer basic course at Fort Lee, Va., and then was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas – although my unit was deployed most of the time. After my active duty service, I was in the active reserve for 10 years.
Q: What was the most rewarding aspect of military service? Most challenging?
A: The most rewarding were the other officers, NCOs, and soldiers I worked with. It’s a tight group and I didn’t really understand how special that was until I left the military – I have never experienced that level of camaraderie and support anywhere in civilian life.
The most challenging was my husband and I were both in the military and were deployed frequently. We did not have kids yet, but thinking about having to have a “family plan” for who would take our kids when both of us were deployed was really daunting.
While I know it is rewarding, the men and women who spend their entire careers in the military are making a personal sacrifice as well, even if they do not end up in combat.
Q: Does your prior service impact how you go about your day-to-day job?
A: It definitely made me like structure and to create structure in its absence! One of the jobs of the Baylor Improvement Group is to help create a good infrastructure at Baylor so projects can be more successful. I also appreciate that the military teaches leadership and gives you plenty of opportunities to practice and learn – my experiences at the academy and in the Army have armed me with practical leadership practices.
Q: What is the most memorable lesson that you learned from serving?
A: When you graduate from the academy, you are an officer – a 2nd Lieutenant. When I arrived at Fort Hood, I was assigned to lead a platoon of soldiers with a platoon sergeant. My platoon sergeant had 20 years of service. Technically, I outranked him. In reality, he was my lifeline. I learned so much from his experience and knowledge that he gained over his career. I was successful because of our partnership.
-By Nicole Blanton