Female sergeant major reflects on three decades of service

Staff Report

SGM Pat Copas

Sgt. Maj. Pat Copas is one of only two female sergeants major in the Kentucky Army National Guard. She has been in the Kentucky Guard for more than 30 years.

FRANKFORT, Ky. – She exemplifies the seven Army Values. She holds true to the first line of the Creed of the Noncommissioned Officer – that “no one is more professional than I.”

Pat Copas spent the last 30 years proving her leadership and professional capabilities while assigned to numerous positions with the Kentucky Guard. On Feb. 11, 2011, she joined the ranks of an elite group of five women who all share the same title – sergeant major. Working as the J3 Operations sergeant major this last year, she reflects on her ascension to the top of the enlisted ranks.

“That was a very exciting day for me, especially as a female Soldier, to be promoted to sergeant major,” she said, “because there are not many of us who achieve this rank.”

Joining the Guard, Copas said, was something she did to better herself. In doing so, she has directly influenced and impacted hundreds of Soldiers under her leadership.

“The advice that I would give to junior enlisted would be to do your job, be a team builder, be professional, and live your Army values and Soldier ethos.  Be honest and truthful to yourself and to your Soldiers. Take the initiative to attend the next level of NCOES so you are ready to move forward when the time comes. Take on the responsibilities and leadership roles that no one else wants to do. Put yourself out in front.  Take pride in your work, and do good things for your unit, the Commonwealth and for your organization,” added Copas.

“Sgt. Maj. Copas is a mentor to our junior enlisted Soldiers and remains an advocate for doing what is right,” said State Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory D. Armstrong.

“I challenge our enlisted Soldiers to set a personal goal that one day will mirror this distinction,” he said.

There are 12 sergeant major and 20 command sergeant major slots in the Kentucky National Guard. While few Guardsmen will reach the elite position of the highest enlisted rank of senior advisor, Copas and four other females have. At the present there is only one other female sergeant major actively serving the Kentucky Guard — Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa Rea is currently deployed to Afghanistan as the first female command sergeant major of an agribusiness development team.

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