Featured in the Spring 2016 Edition of The Torch Magazine were four inspiring sisters in the military. Two more sisters, Lydia Barrett and Kathy Naylor, are sharing stories about their time in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force.
Lieutenant Lydia Barrett, who graduated from Tulane University in 2011, is a Nuclear Power Officer in the U.S. Navy. Barrett decided to apply for the Navy ROTC scholarship while she was in high school after she found out a good friend was applying, thinking that it made sense to trade sweat and tears through service for paying for college. Unlike her friend, however, Barrett received the scholarship and later went on to attend the Navy Nuclear Power School and Navy Nuclear Power Training Command in Charleston, SC, where she graduated in October 2013. “Like most service members will tell you, you join the military for one thing or another but then it transforms before your eyes into something bigger than you, bigger than anything that you could ever imagine it to be,” she says.
Among her many memorable moments in the military, one stood out to her as capturing the importance of international relations. During her Rim of the Pacific Exercise in 2012, Barrett’s ship, the USS Port Royal, worked with three Russian vessels. One goal of the training is to expand global reach so the militaries of the two countries decided to get together for a competitive but fun game of volleyball, which she says was great to see between two very different countries. Barrett also recalls one evening she’ll never forget, when the officers on board her ship were invited over to the Russian Ship Admiral Panteleey for dinner and a tour. A group of about 40 people from the two different countries spent the night dancing, eating and enjoying each others company. “This experience opened my eyes to this world of international relations and how a smile is recognized by all languages and cultures,” says Barrett.
Barrett attributes SDT to some of her successes in the military. The sisterhood, which always encouraged her involvement in the ROTC program and told her how great she looked in her uniform, taught her to keep it classy during tough moments when it may be easy to let emotions get the best of you. Barrett says, “SDT encouraged me to be proud of being a career-oriented, hard charging young female”.
Lieutenant Colonel Kathy Naylor agrees that sorority life and military life have parallels. Naylor graduated from Bradley University in 1993 and decided to look into the military in August of 2001 because she wasn’t enjoying her job. She scheduled an appointment for September 11, hoping to leverage her marketing skills in Public Affairs or Intelligence. Once the events of the day unfolded, Naylor rescheduled her appointment, knowing that she had to be comfortable with this life-changing decision. After carefully considering her options, Naylor found what turned out to be a perfect fit for her—the Medical Service Corps Officer program in the United States Air Force.
Similar to a Chief Operations Officer at a large medical clinic, Naylor currently leads 68 military, civilian and contracted personnel in Logistics, Facilities Management, Readiness (Emergency Management), Information Technology, Resource Management (Manpower and budgeting), TRICARE Operations and Patient Administration, and Diagnostics & Therapeutics (Pharmacy, Laboratory and Radiology). Naylor, who is based in North Dakota, says, “It is a very rewarding job because it is constantly challenging and I’m able to influence all aspects of medical clinic that supports care and treatment for over 4,800 patients.”
Naylor realized the importance of teamwork while she was deployed in support of the Army to mentor a high-ranking officer in the Afghanistan National Police. “I was convoyed outside the wire with my colleagues and that’s when I knew the importance of teamwork and how it wasn’t about me anymore,” she says, “that six to eight other people are depending on me to keep them safe and vice versa – and that each person was a valued member of the team and we couldn’t do the mission without each other.”
Naylor knows that the most rewarding part of both Greek life and military life are the same. Through the sorority, she made many lifelong friends who shared similar experiences with her that have been with her through everything, and says that the military is the same. Naylor met her husband, Steve, in Afghanistan, where she says “we shared the same fears, living conditions and daily routines”. The two were married soon after returning from their deployment and now have a five-year-old daughter. Naylor says, “The most rewarding part of being a sorority sister and a military officer are the relationships and friendships I made along the way.”
By Kelly Potts, Gamma Xi-Montclair State University (2015). Kelly is a volunteer feature and blog writer for Sigma Delta Tau.