Joint Force Headquarters –
“Most of my time in the National Guard has been amazing and I do not regret a thing,” said Spc. Alexandria Cochran, a Military Police Investigator with the 1139th Military Police Company, about her life in the Guard. She has been in the service four years now and was working in Recruiting and Retention for the National Guard on Active Duty Operations Support (ADOS) orders prior to deployment. While this is her first deployment overseas, she has also reported for state emergency when called up by the Governor.
Cochran knew in high school she wanted to join the military but was unsure what branch would be the best fit for her goals. After doing some research she decided the Missouri National Guard was her best option because “they pay for more college than any other branch, I get to stay close to my family, I get to travel, and experience new things that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to as a civilian.”
One of many Missouri Guard Soldiers and Airmen currently serving overseas, Cochran has learned a lot about serving and about herself since joining. Deployments bring many new challenges like having duties she isn’t used to performing as a full-time job, or being separated from her friends and family, with broad time differences that make previously routine communication anything but typical.
“What I struggled with first was missing them (family, and friends), like crazy because I spend most of my time at home with them. So I wasn’t sure what to do in my free time.”
One thing that can help make a difference in those tough times is attitude. “I always try to look at the bright side of things so whether it is a normal day in the office or we’re out in the field, I try to keep everyone’s spirits up so we can all perform our best.”
A lot of the challenges faced during deployment are shared by many and very seldom is a person doing the job alone. When thinking about how her mission is impacted by the people she works with, Cochran said:
“They teach me something new every day and help me to grow as a soldier. My staff sergeant and I are kind of our own team …so, since being over here, he has pushed me beyond my comfort levels, but in a good way... he believes in me and my capabilities even when I doubt myself. He gives me that extra push showing me that I really can accomplish anything…”
The National Guard is like that, people have different roles, different experiences but what makes them who they are, is much the same. Cochran describes her experience in the Guard and deploying to active duty: “You get really close with the ones you work with. You become family.”
Citizen-soldiers often have unique skills to contribute in the active duty arena.
“We have a few people that deployed with us that are law enforcement or previous law enforcement and that helps us even more with the mission…it (civilian experience),
helps improve the mission with readiness, knowledge and experience of the job we are doing, based off of what happened to us in the past.” We can spread the wealth to each other so at the end of the day, we can help keep each other safe.
One thing Cochran has personally done to make an impact and to be different from her predecessor is to bring a different perspective to the job.
“I helped CID (Criminal Investigation Division) with a few of their cases and have gone out to the range with EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal). I’ve made myself known and established relationships with others across the bases to be in good standing and learn what I can do to help and better myself.”
No matter what challenges await Cochran in her future, she is pleased with her impact on the mission, and that she joined the Missouri National Guard.
“(Joining the Missouri National Guard is) by far, the best decision I have ever made.”
Cochran hopes to rejoin recruiting once she completes the last half of her deployment.