By Barry H. Hendrix
Tamara Robinson SSG (staff sergeant) with the U.S. Army, a 2009
graduate of Thomasville High School, was recently honored by the Secretary of
the Army with the Meritorious Service Medal for being among the Top 13 Army
Recruiters in the country for First Quarter Fiscal Year 2020.
She is the daughter of Janice
Robinson-Butler, a fifth grade Language Arts teacher at Thomasville Elementary
Robinson was born in Mobile. While attending THS, teachers such as Kay Larrimore and Tammy Brasell made an impression on her. She called herself “a shy student” at THS.
Her basketball coach Curtis
Lane, from middle school to 12th grade, also had an impact. He taught her “how to work hard and strive to be better in life. There’s more to life after basketball. All those things really stuck with me. …It just allowed me to never quit at anything I do.”
She earned a basketball scholarship with Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia. She played one year before joining the U.S. Army. “I just wanted a change of pace,” she said. “I wanted to challenge myself. I thought the Army was the best way to do that.”
Robinson’s family had an Army background. Her grandfather, an aunt and two uncles served in the Army.
Success in the military “all depends on the person, just like a normal civilian job,” she said. “If you are motivated and you want to succeed and better yourself, you can progress pretty fast. I know I have.” As of Feb. 1, she has been in the Army nine years. “It pushes you to be better. It brings out so much that you never thought you had in yourself.”
Initially, the plan was for just three years in the Army, and then go back to college, Robinson said. However, she realized she could earn her education while still in the military. She continues to work on her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Louisville in Kentucky with a concentration on organization leadership and learning.
“The Army selects the top 10 percent out of each job field to be a recruiter.” She was chosen to be a recruiter at the West Roosevelt Recruiting Station in Chicago. “They look at the total background. They check your aptitude” and the score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. “They look at awards you have received in the military, the promotions you have received. It lets them know you are among the best.”
awards that Robinson has received:
• five U.S. Army Achievement medals;
• two U.S. Army Commendation medals;
• three U.S. Army Good Conduct medals;
• one Meritorious Service medal;
• Global War on Terrorism Medal
• one Certificate of Achievement;
• a National Defense Service medal;
• a Afghanistan Campaign medal.
She also has earned various
qualifications in an accomplished Army career: Combat Lifesaver; Fuel Handler;
Technical Transportation of Hazardous Materials; Digital Training Management
System; Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear Defense; and Basic
She also completed the following military schools: Basic Leader Course; Advanced Leader Course including the Commandant’s list (top five percent of her class); and Recruiter and Retention College.
As a recruiter in Chicago,
she has recruited 40 civilians from the west side of Chicago. In 2019, she was
named the Top Recruiter of the Chicago Recruiting Company.
She has been recognized in a promotion board competition (“Soldier of the Month” in 2013 and “Non-Commissioned Officer of the Month” in 2016).
Robinson served in
Afghanistan nine months in 2014.
“A lot of people get complacent in their lives,” she said. Being a member of the military, “I always want to challenge myself – to see how far I can go. …I think it’s my work ethic. I work really hard, whether it is working long nights or coming in on a weekend. I just go the extra mile to do what it takes to succeed and to stand out from my peers.”
Robinson appreciates the structure in the military. “It has definitely matured me at a young age. The discipline was there when I first came. I think that was more what I was looking for when I joined. I was blindsided going into the military. I didn’t know what to expect being a female, but these nine years have really matured me in ways that – if I hadn’t been in the military – I don’t think it would have been this fast.”
High school students – and especially girls – have a great opportunity in the U.S. Army. “It is not all about combat infantry, fighting, going to war,” Robinson said. “We have over 150 different jobs to choose from.” Those jobs include human resources, the medical services, engineering construction, trade jobs, and legal services. “We have a lot of opportunities to choose from and be qualified in.”
You can go full-time Army or part-time reserve. “You can come back home after you graduate the initial training. …You can work part-time for the Army and still go to school. The Army will pay for your education, whether you go part-time or full-time.
“You get that experience to travel and meet people from all over the country,” she said. “You are constantly learning new jobs. You learn leadership positions. It would be a good opportunity for (high school students). You don’t have to do 20 years. You don’t have to make it a career. You can do three years, get the experience, and if you decide to get out of the Army, at least you know they will pay for your education.”
In her spare time, when not visiting her family, Robinson said she is “a homebody.”