NEWS | March 31, 2021

New Female Battalion Commander takes lead after representing the Kentucky Guard at the National Level

By Sgt. Jesse Elbouab, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Growing up a self-proclaimed army brat, Lt. Col. La’Shawna Waller did not exactly hit the ground running with her career as soon as she was old enough to sign the papers.

"I knew I was going to serve," Waller said. "I just didn't know where or when I was going to go for it."

Waller, commander of the 1792nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, is one of the youngest battalion commanders in Kentucky Guard history. Securing the title as an African American female has come with its challenges, but she has not let anything stop her from pursuing her ultimate self.

Soldiers make all kinds of sacrifices during their careers to chase professional goals. As a female, Waller opened up about her sacrifices and the role women traditionally adhere to versus the evolution of today's working woman.

“It has not been easy,” she said. “Women often prefer to stop their careers to begin a family. I have at times wondered how different my life and career would look if I started a family along the way, too.”

Waller’s career had humble beginnings. College was a non-negotiable challenge she knew she would face and overcome. But after her freshman year, Waller found herself running out of financial aid, and she was unwilling to rack up the student loan debt necessary to continue at the pace she wanted.

She could have reached a stopping point, but it became the start of a new beginning for her.

After meeting with an Army recruiter, she joined the University of Kentucky's Army ROTC program to continue her education goals debt-free and kick off a new Army career.

Waller commissioned through ROTC and was attached to an aviation branch in 2005 as a Quartermasters. Her first major assignment was a deployment to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, from 2006-08 with the 135th Foxtrot Company as a platoon leader and the unit's accountability officer.

She deployed once more throughout her career. The trials of career versus family pursuit have made some career roles more challenging than others.

She desires to have a family and expressed her willingness to accept that challenge when the time is right for her.

“I know [pursuing a family and a career in the Guard] can be done because I have seen it,” she said. “there just hasn’t been a right time for me. Until then, I will continue to meet each challenge one day at a time.”

Since 2012, Waller has represented the organization at a national level, holding several prominent positions at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Virginia.

“Lt. Col. Waller brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from her previous positions, which include the prestigious assignment of Assistant Executive Officer for the Director of the Army National Guard,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Starke, commander of the 75th Troop Command. “Those experiences and the wisdom that comes with them give Lt. Col. Waller the tremendous ability to look at challenges from different perspectives and points of view, which is something we truly value in the 75th Troop Command as we strive to support the commonwealth and the nation during very complex times.”

There is no denying that Waller stands out next to her peers, but it is also clear to have nothing to do with gender or ethnicity. Waller is a model soldier. Her ambition, uncompromising approach to self-discipline, and dedication to mission and state exemplify her as a vital asset for the Kentucky National Guard.

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