By Stacy Floden, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Thirty years and counting. That’s what Col. Shontelle Adams has on his military resume and that is just the beginning. As he sits as the director of personnel, he is the senior African American in the Kentucky National Guard, but he has never thought of it that way. “I just come to work and try to figure out how I can help this organization. But at the same time, it shows opportunities are open for everyone. All you have to do is apply yourself.”
Adams military experience has given him a wealth of opportunities. He has been able to travel all over the world and create life-long friendships. The military has been a win-win for him.
“I have so many achievements I am proud of, too many to count,” he said. “The company commander for the 223rd MPs which deployed to Bosnia. The battalion commander for the 198th (Military Police Battalion) which deployed to Iraq and completing Senior Service College.”
“But the feeling you get when you are responsible for such a precious commodity – a son, a daughter, a brother or a husband – having that responsibility of being entrusted with them is one of the biggest achievements you can have and just hoping you did well.”
Equally important, are the things that make the military so very special. Things like diversity, equality and inclusion. Those are just some of the traits that make America’s military the strongest, finest fighting force the world has ever seen.
“African Americans have paved the way for this great country we live in, from the Revolutionary War to where we are today,” said Adams. “African Americans have always played a part in the military. There are a lot of opportunities for anyone, but military isn’t for everybody. It does take a special type of person to put your life on the line, selfless service truly comes to mind.”
Strength is not only in diversity, but in the ability to weave together people of different faiths, cultures and races who share common values like duty, honor, selfless service, loyalty and respect into a unified fighting force.
“To me it is about education. It is an opportunity to learn about our history. But, I also think it shouldn’t be just about the month. The education should continue throughout a lifetime,” he said. “We have to be able to venture out and better understand other cultures and ethnicities. Educate each other. The want and the desire to learn about other cultures and ethnicities, not outside the United States, but in our own backyard.”
The military stands as a proud example of all that can be as a nation when everyone is welcomed and embraced. Not only during Black History Month, but every month. It is important to take the opportunity to diversify the ranks and realize the opportunities for everyone despite the difficulties.
“It is all about what you allow to become a barrier. I am more about finding the good in situations,” said. Adams. “Have there been challenges, yes there have been, but there are a lot of challenges today, but we just have to find out the best way to support each other. If you look at it as a barrier or obstacle, then that is what it is going to be. But, if you look at it as an opportunity then it takes on a different meaning.”