By Senior Airman Kaylea Berry 11th Wing Public Affairs
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md., May 14, 2020 — America’s Airman Program
What’s your full name, job title and unit?
Ms. Robin Catherine Wood, Personnel Security Specialist & Presidential Support Program Manager, WSA, 11th Wing Information Protection
What’s your hometown city and state (and country, if not U.S.)?
Born in Washington, DC
Grew up in Waldorf, MD, spending a lot of time on the Chesapeake Bay and Patuxent River with my maternal and paternal grandparents
Live in Chesapeake Beach, MD for 27 years now
What has being in the military allowed you to do that you wouldn’t have otherwise done?
Hands down, to experience being part of an organization that cares for me professionally and personally. Professionally, we were groomed to learn our jobs and grow as leaders. There was always the next milestone to achieve. We were given education, training and sent to leadership schools. Personally, we were provided with healthcare and mandated to participate in physical fitness, and kept up to date on our shots. If we fell short of fitness standards, we received personal training and a nutritionist. We were given a First Sergeant whose business is the welfare of the troops. We were provided with tuition assistance and encouraged to pursue higher education. We were given Wing Man Days to focus internally on growing as teams, caring for each other, learning how to do our best to prevent suicides and sexual assaults. We were recognized publicly for stellar performance and for receiving promotions. We were afforded fair (due process) and given the opportunity to let our voices be heard when our evaluations or performance were less than satisfactory. I can go on.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in the military?
I always loved going into the “field” and setting up the TRC 170 mobile microwave radio. Going into the field meant I got to drive the 5-ton truck. Surveying the area, positioning and erecting the antennas, setting the frequency, transmitting the signal and linking up with the distant end was like catching a trophy fish…every time. I know it was my job but it was challenging and rewarding. It was like putting together a giant million dollar model, sometimes in the mud, with teammates focused on their parts to complete our part and ultimately we would become one part of a bigger mission.
What hobbies do you have/what do you do in your spare time?
I like to work in my yard, hunt for sharks’ teeth on our beach and spend time in and around the Bay with my puppies. I hope to train them to paddle board later this summer.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your life?
Raising two children while my husband and I both were in the service. My husband deployed far more than I. It seemed like when he deployed, the kids got sick, the car broke down, the basement leaked, my son’s school would call about his “Peter Pan” behavior or something else untimely would happen. I felt like a single parent often and was exhausted most days. When 9/11 hit, my children were 6 and 2. Our Dependent Care Plans were executed that day. Being a mom is challenging, being a single mom was challenging, serving 20 years in the military was challenging. My greatest challenges have been my greatest accomplishments.
What are two interesting facts about yourself?
1. I am the “handyman” in the household. I very much prefer to cut the grass, fix the thing that needs fixing, clean the shed, or go to the dump than do laundry, go to the grocery store and cook.
2. My boss and family may tell you that it is interesting to see how handy and scatterbrained I am at the same time. I can put things together or back together like a gas grill, furniture, or the toilet tank but don’t call me while I’m doing it because chances are I can’t find my phone.
How has the outbreak effected your job?
Minimally in most areas because our positions are telework-approved. We are having challenges with onboarding new contractors who require a background investigation to be conducted, which has a domino effect. Fingerprinting is too high of a risk to perform right now. Some organizations we support aren’t able to onboard personnel to fulfill their missions.
What are you doing to stay active during all of this?
Enjoying my hobbies – Puppies, yard work and yoga.
21 March I brought home 7-week-old chocolate Labrador Retrievers. We’ve been potty training, learning to walk on a leash, playing ball and in-between, I find myself playing chase…chasing two little critters that think mommy’s shoes, socks, hats, and anything else at their eye level are chew toys.
Spring cleaning the yard is always a chore. The trees require trimming, the bushes require pruning, fresh mulch needs applying and the rock beds need rocks.
After all the exercise is done, yoga is in order.
How have you stayed resilient during the COVID epidemic?
The most important aspect of resiliency, for me, is to maintain my spiritual wellness which I do every day. In doing so, my perspective is brought into focus. I focus on what I, along with the federal workforce and military have, rather than what I do not have. We have our jobs and steady income while others stand in long lines and make thousands of calls to apply for unemployment benefits. We are able to telework when others cannot. If we have social distanced early on, we have our health. There were organizations already postured to deliver food, medicine and clothes to our houses. I am in a position to help others. I exercise daily and enjoy the presence of my children. My 25-year-old son teleworks with me. My 20-year-old daughter, who resides in Florida, is staying in Maryland with me. She was visiting when stay-at-home orders were issued. I have a boss and leadership who cares for me. I know if I needed something, he and 11 WG would be there to help with whatever I needed. I have so much to be thankful for, so I focus on my blessings.
Why is it important for Airmen to stay connected even during times of social distancing?
Isolation can lead to loneliness and depression. It can happen subtly and lead to destructive thoughts and behaviors. We work in an organization that fosters togetherness so we need to stay together for our personal wellness, our families and our missions.
My closest friends and family can tell by the sound of my voice when something is not quite right with me, even when I try to keep it to myself. That type of awareness is only developed when we talk to our friends and family (including work family) enough that they know the sound of our voice when we are happy, sad, confused, and all the other emotions. Keep talking to your “peeps.” Keep FaceTiming. Have virtual get-togethers. Have safe outside get-togethers. My neighborhood does this frequently. They gather outside (no more than 10 people), bring their own chairs and beverages, and arrange the chairs at least six feet apart…more like ten. They put on music and talk for an hour or so. To those with young children, set a time to connect with your spouse. Adults need adult conversation. Enjoy time with family, even if it may be challenging, because we will most likely never see this kind of time again. Introverts are loving this time right now, but even introverts need other people. Call your wingman daily!
If you are teleworking, what are some things teleworking has helped with in your mission?
Focus. My job requires a lot of attention to detail. I am able to focus more in a telework setting. A better product yields better results.