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Conversation with Retired Brig. General Rebecca Halstead

 

PneumaReview.com speaks with Becky Halstead—the first woman general to lead in combat at the strategic level*—about faith, leadership, and how churches can support the men and women who serve in the military.

 

PneumaReview.com: Please tell us about where you come from and why you aspired to become an officer, and ultimately a Brigadier General, in the US Army.

Retired Brig. General Becky Halstead, the first female commanding general in the U.S. Military history to lead at the strategic in combat operations.

Retired Brig. General Rebecca Halstead: I was born and raised mostly in upstate New York. Our little town of Willseyville (where I lived) and Candor (where I went to school) had no traffic lights. We were considered mostly a dairy area, and the majority of our time was spent in school, church and community activities. My father worked for IBM, and my mother was a dental hygienist. I loved playing sports and wanted to be a physical education teacher. However, in 1976 my mother read in the newspaper about the military academies opening up to women. My mom thought I was the perfect fit for what they looking for and she encouraged me to apply. My mom and dad were loving, strong and disciplined Christian parents. I reluctantly agreed to put my nomination packet together. After visiting several of the Academies, I decided if I was going to attend, I wanted West Point for its rich history and discipline.

In the late spring of my senior year of high school, 1977, I received my acceptance letter from West Point. I began my military journey just a few days after high school graduation in July 1977. Before leaving for West Point I had key people in my life sign my Bible: youth group leader, Sunday school teachers, Pastor and his wife, parents, and some best friends. During my four years at West Point I read their words of encouragement hundreds of times. My goals were simple: don’t quit, don’t let my family and friends down, and pray to graduate.

Upon graduation in 1981, I was commissioned an officer in the United States Army. I was a Second Lieutenant. There was never any intent on my part to serve more than my mandatory five years after graduation. However, as the years unfolded, God blessed me with opportunities after opportunities, and numerous promotions. Again, I never aspired to become a General Officer, but after 16 different duty assignments and 23 years of serving and leading America’s sons and daughters, I was promoted in 2004 to Brigadier General.

With my promotion to Brigadier General came orders for combat. In 2005, my command in Germany was selected to deploy to Balad, Iraq for one year. In Iraq I had 20,000 soldiers in my command and we provided distribution of all the logistics for the 250,000 coalition men and women stationed there. It was the hardest, most challenging year of my life, but it was also the most rewarding. I grew as a leader, both personally and professionally. My faith walk was tested and strengthened as I dealt with tragedy and disappointments, complex missions, and the very worse, yet the very best at times, of mankind.

Becky Halstead’s first book, 24/7: The First Person You Must Lead Is YOU.

I returned to the United States in 2006 and took my last command in the army at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. I was responsible for all the military training associated with men and women in the Ordnance Corps—the second largest branch in the Army. Unfortunately, I was dealing with a personal illness, chronic fibromyalgia, and after thoughtful prayer and consideration, submitted my retirement in 2008. I was only 49 years old, and I hated to leave the military that I come to love, especially because of the men and women I served with and led. I have always believed and practiced that God places nothing in front of us that He is not willing to help us through. So, I considered this a new mission and by retiring I could wrap my arms around the disease and figure out what was next.

 

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Category: Living the Faith, Summer 2014

About the Author: Becky Halstead, retired Brigadier General, United States Army, founded her own leader consultancy company, STEADFAST Leadership, LLC, following 27 years of service in the U.S. military and her role as Executive Director for a leadership consultancy company. Becky specializes in inspirational speaking (nationally and internationally, corporate and academic), developing leader training programs, leader coaching, consulting and advising. Her first book on leadership, 24/7: The First Person You Must Lead Is YOU was published in 2013. www.beckyhalstead.com

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