ATLANTA – From day one of joining the National Guard, Sgt. Dominique Bailey has worked to make a better life for her three children while balancing her role as a noncommissioned officer.
Bailey faced many challenges prior to joining the Guard. She was a rowdy teenager and didn't have the easiest childhood. Bailey's mother had six children. Her family had been homeless and moved around every year until she entered high school. Her mother fought to get Bailey and her siblings in to a stable home to give them a better life.
"My mother had a lot of struggles and I was put in a position where I started going down the same road and I didn't want to go there," said Bailey. "She had my brother at around 16 and I followed shortly after, it was hard for her."
Bailey said that by the end of high school she was in an unstable relationship and beginning to struggle. She worked two jobs while balancing a young family and trying to go to school. While living in New York, Bailey saw an advertisement for the New York National Guard. She did some research and enlisted in July 2014 as a private.
"When I made the decision to join, I had my own motives," said Bailey. "I did my research, I knew what was expected of me and I accepted it."
Her training and drill schedule kept her in New York, away from her children who moved during training to live with Bailey's mother in Georgia. During drill weekends, Bailey would commute to New York, sleep in her car and send money back to her family. The separation made it difficult for Bailey, but her drive to give her children a better life kept her motivated.
Bailey began the discussions of a transfer to the Georgia National Guard to be closer to her children and family. This task proved to be difficult for Bailey because she was slotted for overseas deployment with her unit in New York.
"It ended up being a lot of back and forth because I couldn't find a unit in Georgia," said Bailey. "What actually pushed my unit to allow the transfer was that I was on my way from drill and was in a bad car accident."
Bailey was regularly driving back and forth to drill. This drill, she had her son and brother with her on the drive home. Only a few hours from their house, she collided with another car and lost control, swerving into a divider that flipped her car multiple times.
"When I looked in my rear-view mirror, I saw my son's booster seat laying in the road," said Bailey. "I'm not sure how my brother was able to secure my son in his arms through the chaos, but he did and that was the last time I drove to New York."
Bailey stated that everyone was very blessed. Besides having a few bumps and bruises, everyone involved was okay.
Bailey transferred to the Marietta, Georgia-based 93rd Financial Management Support Unit in 2016 and has received high regards since her arrival to the Georgia National Guard. At the time of Bailey's transfer, the 93rd did not have a slot for her. After much discussion with leadership, showcasing extensive knowledge in her job and routinely maximizing her physical training tests, Bailey was officially accepted to the Georgia National Guard.
"She is one of the hardest chargers in the unit," said 1st Sgt. Maurika Flores, 93rd Financial Management Support Unit. "When she transferred from her unit in New York, she came in and has consistently met and exceeded every standard."
In the summer of 2018, Bailey participated in Diamond Saber, a U.S. Army and National Guard exercise which brings together finance components from around the United States Army to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. During the exercise, Bailey operated in the position of a sergeant first class. She took the challenges presented to her head on and trusted in her knowledge and the training.
"I had instructors tell me that the knowledge piece was there, but the biggest downfall is going to be rank," said Bailey. "So, when you step into a position you have to depend 100 percent on your knowledge and stand by your knowledge."
With the help and support of her unit, Bailey successfully completed her job as a dispersing manager. It made her feel proud that other units from the training exercise came to her for advice at Fort McCoy.
For Bailey's extensive work at Diamond Saber, she received an Army Commendation Medal. Bailey was also promoted to the rank of sergeant in late 2018. Bailey's personable approach to leadership allows for her to communicate, especially to the female soldiers, if you are willing to put in the effort, you can do anything that the men can do.
"You can't limit someone's ability to do a job because of their gender," said Bailey. "I feel the same way for men, if a man is not physically or mentally fit to complete a job then they should not be in that position just because their gender allows it."