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NEWS | Oct. 9, 2020

These Shoes Were Made for Running: An Army Reserve Soldier’s Story in Reaching New Goals

By Sgt. 1st Class Emily Anderson 94th Training Division-Force Sustainment

Physical fitness is a crucial component to being a Soldier, and for Sgt. 1st Class Dianna Smith, 7th/95th Battalion, 4th Brigade (Personnel Services), 94th Training Division – Force Sustainment, her fitness goals resulted in completing 25 races in less than 120 days.

“Physical fitness is important for life longevity. You can't live long, by eating and living wrong,” Smith said. “In uniform, we need to look like we are fit to fight, and be fit to fight. When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you do great things.”

Smith, a Tacoma, Washington native, had to take on the challenge of staying physically fit while maintaining social distance and other health precautions, so she took on the goal of completing virtual races, completing more than 365 miles. 

“I completed a 5K run, and I was hooked. It felt so great to do a race at my pace, my location, and how I wanted,” she said. “These virtual races give me time to de-stress, reflect on myself, and spend time with the Lord.”

Her desire to compete in races did not come from nowhere. Her need to change things in her life was based on being unhappy with weight issues and juggling a lot at work and her personal life.

“I desperately craved change, so I found myself praying at my dining room table,” said Smith. “I was looking for ways to manage stress and decided to just go for a walk.”

“Once I started walking, I kept on walking,” she added. “I was surprised when my app showed that my final distance was 5.89 miles.”

Since April, Smith has completed multiple races for more than just a medal. She has completed races related to raising awareness about justice, Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder awareness, and in honor of one of her Soldier’s children.

In addition to increasing her physical growth, Smith wants to serve as a role model for other Soldiers. She recently participated in a Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development virtual panel. The NCOPD featured only female Soldiers ranging in rank and career fields in hopes to inspire and motivate other female Soldiers to excel in a previously male-dominated military.

“As women, we don't have to lose ourselves while trying to prove that we belong in this organization,” she said. “Yes, we need to be professional and conduct ourselves accordingly. However, when it is your time to speak, or when it is time for you to show what you are made of, the thing that will make you the most successful, is being the truest, most authentic version of yourself.”

Smith, who spoke about her time as the only female in an organization and served seven years in a Stryker Brigade Combat Team, shared an analogy about not being discouraged if you are not the most skilled Soldier in a unit.

“We can be jagged little pills or rusty saws, and still be great Soldiers and leaders. Jagged little pills will still dissolve and provide the medicinal aid needed,” Smith said. “A rusty saw can be cleaned up, polished, sharpened, and still be used.”

The determination and focus Smith shows in her fitness achievements are mirrored in her role as a human resources noncommissioned officer, where she serves as a key support element for Army Reserve instructors.

With Smith playing such a significant role at her unit, 1st Sgt. John Charles, the first sergeant for the 7th/95th Battalion, 4th Brigade (PS), 94th TD-FS, gives insight about Smith’s performance and the way ahead that he sees for her military career.

“Smith keeps me in-the-know and makes the role that I have easier,” said Charles. “She increases the overall effectiveness of our organization, and I see command sergeant major ahead for her.”

“She is the epitome of the NCO corps, and the desire that she has to see others succeed is exceptional,” he said. “She is good at what she does, and she is a great asset and leader for the future generation of our military.”

In addition to supporting instructors within the 94th TD-FS, Smith motivates her senior leaders, peers, and subordinates to set goals and reach achievements.

“Smith motivates me to push through any physical limitations to achieve my goals. I am very proud of her and thankful to her for completing races for some amazing causes,” said Sgt. Sheryl Ratliff, a human resources NCO for the 7th/95th Battalion, 4th Brigade (PS), 94th TD-FS. “She is bringing awareness to causes, taking pride in herself, and showing others they can do anything they put their minds to achieving.”

“I think it’s important to see Sgt. 1st Class Smith doing these inspiring things because she is getting involved in her community, giving back, and showing the Soldiers who look up to her that it is essential to set goals and not let anything hold you back or deter you.”

While Smith hopes to increase her racing count, she knows her Army Reserve journey is not nearing the end but moving her forward to doing great things.

“The Army truly has been a fun experience thus far,” Smith said. “I decided to join the Army Reserve to see what adventures were ahead. To date, it’s the best decision I have made in my career.”