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Home : News : State Partnership Program
NEWS | March 5, 2024

New Army National Guard General Officer Reflects on Career

By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy, National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. -  At the command “attention to orders,” Robin Hoeflein steadfastly assumed the position of attention — shoulders squared, head and eyes facing directly ahead, fingers curled against her palms, and hands locked tightly against her sides. 

As she stood rigidly in place, the words of the orders “…has placed special trust in the patriotism, valor, fidelity, and professional excellence of …” floated through the room as the announcer read them aloud.

With the orders officially published, her husband joined her at the front of the room as their two daughters watched. Tearing slightly, he removed the colonel insignia from her uniform, replacing it with the single star of an Army brigadier general.

In that moment, Hoeflein, vice director of the Operations Directorate at the National Guard Bureau, joined the top tier of Army officers.   

“Less than one-half of 1% of officers in the Army make general officer,” said Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, who hosted and presided over Hoeflein’s promotion ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, Feb. 29. “I think, No. 1, that says a lot about Robin, says a lot about her family, but it really says a lot about how our system can identify people with incredible potential and get them in those positions of responsibility.”

Hoeflein, one of the Army’s newest general officers, was promoted a day before the beginning of March, Women’s History Month. 

Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth Hoisington were the first women in the U.S. military to serve in the general officer ranks. Both were promoted to brigadier general within minutes of each other in a June 1970 ceremony, with Hays promoted first, in alphabetical order.  

A veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Hays served as the 13th chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, while Hoisington, also a WWII veteran, served as the first commanding general of the Women’s Army Corps.

But none of that was on Hoeflein’s mind when she enlisted in April 1989, not quite 20 years later. 

“I initially joined the military to take advantage of the education benefits,” she said. “After completing my degrees, I stayed in because I enjoy the work and camaraderie.”

Hoeflein commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1998 after completing Officer Candidate School. Since then, she has served in a variety of positions, including executive officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Joint Forces Headquarters, Virginia National Guard, various positions at the NGB and commander of the Los Angeles Military Entrance Processing Station — the largest MEPS in the nation.  

In 2005, she deployed to Iraq as commander of the 183rd Personnel Services Detachment, Virginia Army National Guard, and later commanded the 115th Regional Support Group, California Army National Guard. 

Before her current assignment, she served as chief of staff of the 40th Infantry Division, California Army Guard — the first Army infantry division commanded by a woman, Maj. Gen. Laura Yeager, who served in that position from 2019 until her 2022 retirement. Hoeflein deployed to Kuwait with the division in July, returning in January to take on her current position.

Hoeflin said those around her inspired her in each of those roles.  

“My favorite part of serving is the extraordinary people I get the honor of serving with,” she said. “We have incredibly talented, dedicated and selfless service members that make significant contributions and sacrifices for our country every day.”

For Hoeflein, one of the key examples came in 2020 while serving as commander of the 115th RSG. The unit was called up to support state authorities during COVID and wildfire response missions.  

“At the height of the operation, I had the privilege of leading over 2,100 Soldiers and Airmen,” she said. “These service members worked tirelessly on the wildland fire sites and food banks, vaccination centers, skilled nursing facilities, medical facilities, and, sadly, even at the Riverside and Los Angeles County morgues. It’s their dedication, their constant professionalism, that allowed us to be successful.”

She said those she has served with have helped prepare her to take on new challenges, roles and responsibilities. 

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best officers, NCOs [noncommissioned officers], and civilians, that have all had a hand in me getting to this point,” she said. “Without the support, guidance and mentorship that they have provided, I would not have achieved this honor of being promoted to the rank of brigadier general.”

She said she also draws strength from her husband, Ray, and their children. 

“I can never thank you enough for supporting me and my career,” she said to her husband during the ceremony. “You never complain or make me feel guilty about the hours of work or the time I’m away from home. You truly are an amazing man and a blessing to our family.”

Hoeflein said she’s eager to take on the challenges of her new role. 

“I look forward to getting started next week,” she said. “I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate to be here today. I will forever be grateful for this tremendous opportunity.”