JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.- Sgt. 1st Class Karmen Walling is the Actions Branch Noncommissioned officer in charge for the Missouri National Guard Headquarters, where she oversees the awards, promotions and discharges for the state’s roughly 6,500 enlisted Army National Guard soldiers.
Walling has been a member of the Guard for 19 years and has served in St. Louis, Rolla and Fulton, Mo., before coming to state headquarters. Through her many years in the Guard, she said her most gratifying experience has been balancing being a mom, a wife and a soldier.
Walling has three sons, Jacob (22), Ethan (17) and Hunter (17). Her husband, Jason, is currently in the Inactive Ready Reserve and served most recently as the 1st Sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company 35th Military Police Brigade, Missouri National Guard. Their son, Jacob, followed his parents’ example and joined the Army as an active duty Military Police soldier.
During her time with the Guard, Walling deployed to Kosovo in 2008 and to Kuwait in 2018. While she says deploying and activating is a part of serving in the Guard, being away from her kids was incredibly tough. “It takes a village to raise kids,” said Walling. “My Army family helped me immensely while I was deployed. Balancing motherhood and being a soldier is not easy, but when you deploy, make sure you explain to your kids what you do and why you do it at their level of understanding,” she said.
Walling has raised her boys to be strong independent men but points out that they have also helped her grow as a person and a soldier. “Jason and I raised them to love God, respect women, and to be productive members of society,” said Walling.
When asked what advice she has for new moms in the military, she said, “learn how to pray and pray for yourself and your kids. It helped me immensely when dealing with being gone. When talking to your kids about leaving, be sure to watch your words and tone, kids tend to hold onto exact words and how you say them, not necessarily, what you are trying to say.”
Technology has also helped her maintain contact with her family while away. FaceTime and Skype helped maintain a closer bond and personal connection, easing the pain during her two deployments.
Finally, Walling wants new moms to know not to be afraid to reach out and find a mentor who has been down the path of balancing being a mom and a soldier. One of the mentors that helped her find her path was Col. Rebecca Segovia. Segovia helped her with advice and direction, as she was a new mom, balancing her life as a mother, a wife and a soldier.