I decided to join the Army because it was the most economical way to go to college away from my hometown. Following in my older brother’s footsteps, I competed for and won an Army ROTC scholarship to pay for tuition and books. The university I attended was only three hours from home, but when you are just coming out of a very small high school it feels like light years. The most challenging part of my decision to sign the ROTC contract at the age of 17 did not actually hit me until a couple of years later. It was then that I fully realized I signed up for years of commitment at a place of the Army’s choosing and that place was likely to be much further than three hours away from family and friends.
As an officer in the Chemical Corps I actually had the opportunity to work pretty closely with ECBC while assigned to the Requirements Directorate at the Chemical School. I worked on the documents that set requirements for protective masks during the time when we were building the M40 as a replacement for the M17. After three years of working with soldiers in Germany and gaining first-hand knowledge of what did and did not work, it was interesting to see it from the perspective of the engineers and other technical professionals at ECBC. Of course that period of interaction led me to believe I knew everything there was to know about the organization and I could not have been more wrong. Coming to work here after an additional 15 or 16 years of service has been really eye-opening. I had no idea that ECBC was involved in so many aspects of support to the Warfighter. I am very proud to be part of an organization with such a vast array of capabilities.
The most valuable lesson I learned while in service is the importance of taking care of people. You take care of them and they will take care of you. Leaders would be nothing but a bag of hot air without good teams supporting them. I learned early on that if you really listen to the people who work for you they will teach you how to lead them. That was an important lesson because the Army has a tendency to move a person from challenge to challenge very quickly, forcing you to learn a new job in front of a new team every year or two. You did not have months and years to figure things out before you started making decisions that would affect the lives of your co-workers.
I think if you are flexible, patient, and truly willing to think out of the box you will not only adapt to the culture but you will thrive in it. It also helps to be just a little bit visionary. If you are capable of quickly sizing up a situation and doing a quick gap analysis, you will be able to focus effort on changes that will benefit the organization rather than on details of no consequence.
June K. Sellers currently serves as Surety Officer/Security Manager at ECBC. She retired from the active Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2005 having served 21 years as a chemical officer. During that time she held leadership and staff positions in various Nuclear, Biological and Chemical defense units, taught chemistry at the US Military Academy, and spent a year as a fellow at Merck Pharmaceuticals. Her final assignment in the military was on the Army Staff writing policy to support the Army Chemical and Biological Surety programs. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Zoology and a Master of Science in Microbiology and Forensic Science. June is originally from Lafayette, LA.