FORT GORDON, Ga. –
One dedicated and experienced U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) officer and civilian nursing professional is now helping to keep Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER) healthy during a very difficult era in medicine.
On reserve duty Lt. Col. LaTonya Perkins is a head nurse and the senior medical readiness officer for the USAR’s 75th Field Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Ala. When not in uniform there she is a Nurse Case Manager for the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, managing care for homeless veterans in a region spanning portions of Alabama and Georgia.
But currently she is serving full time on an extended active duty Army tour as ARCYBER’s Command Surgeon at Fort Gordon, Ga. With the support of her USAR unit and civilian employer she is bringing her 18-plus years of military service and 33 years of civilian and military medical expertise and experience to the ARCYBER team.
As Command Surgeon, Perkins serves more than 16,000 personnel assigned to ARCYBER worldwide, managing health service support and medical care at home station and other locations in the U.S. and abroad; overseeing the medical readiness of ARCYBER’s assigned units; providing medical guidance and assistance to the command's Holistic Health and Fitness program; and serving as a special staff officer to the ARCYBER commander. Her goal is to coordinate health care efforts, policies and plans that ensure optimal health and performance for ARCYBER personnel and their families.
“I joined the Army Reserve because I wanted to serve my country and take care of ill, wounded or sick Soldiers and their families when called upon to do so,” says the Montgomery, Ala., native. That calling has been perhaps a greater challenge than ever in the COVID-19 era.
It’s no surprise that Perkins said that on top of all those other duties, dealing with the pandemic has kept her very busy. Managing the command’s medical response to the virus has included providing guidance and education to those who have had positive exposure to COVID-19, such as quarantine and isolation guidelines, when to seek medical help or report to a hospital, and when to return to work; setting up mass formations and clinic appointments for vaccinations; weekly testing of unvaccinated personnel; tracking data for vaccinated and unvaccinated personnel; and ensuring that reams of guidance and changes for COVID-19 health and safety measures are carefully implemented and followed.
Perkins has succeeded admirably at ARCYBER, its leaders say, attributing that success to her experience and sincere devotion to the Army and health care.
“Her service brings critical and essential lifesaving information to the Soldiers and civilians of his command. … In this position (she) has served with great professionalism, compassion and distinction,” wrote Brig. Gen. Dion Moten, Mobilization Assistant to the ARCYBER Commanding General.
"Lt. Col. Perkins is truly a caring and compassionate leader and health care professional," added Col. Julius Johnson, ARCYBER’s Chief of Reserve Affairs. "Since coming on board as the ARCYBER Command Surgeon she has shown resilience and professional competence in all her endeavors to support the command, staff and subordinate commands. Using her civilian skills as a health expert and nurse she has provided the command invaluable support and advice as ARCYBER maneuvers through this COVID pandemic.”
“I joined the Army Cyber team in August 2020, in the midst of the Army's initial COVID responses,” said ARCYBER Chief of Staff Col. Ernesto Cortez. “We did not have a vaccine yet and we were all focusing on preventative measures, testing, and quarantining to keep our workforce and workplaces safe. One of the first questions I asked was who our "Command Surgeon" was, and I was surprised to find out we did not have one. Our medical NCO, Sgt. 1st Class Edmund Williams, was doing the work of three people but he desperately needed assistance.
“We advertised the position, interviewed Lt. Col. Perkins and mobilized her from the Army Reserve, and she has been an incredible asset to the command ever since,” Cortez added. “First and foremost, she cares for our workforce as if we all are her own family. She rapidly built close partnerships with our regional medical center and responded to every point of need in an incredibly challenging time. Her steady presence and her decisive actions have been such an enormous gift to our formation that I cannot imagine navigating the COVID reality without her to guide and advise us.”
Perkins attributes much of her achievement to a long list of people she says have inspired her in her medical and Army careers, and who she is quick to name: her older sister and nurse Debra Williams and her brother Sgt. 1st Class (Ret.) Kevin Parker; Col. (Ret.) Venice Smiley; Col. Joyce Toriano; Lt. Col. (Ret.) Cheryl Owens; Lt. Col. (Ret.) Mary Ellen Grant; Lt. Col. (Ret.) Carolyn Driver; Lt. Col. Brian Vogt; Maj. Bianca Austin; Capt. (Ret.) Larry Keith; Sgt. 1st Class (Ret.) Ojedita Johnson; Col. Sheila Webb; and Col. Barbara Ousby.
“All these people have greatly impacted my Army career by providing words of encouragement with difficult assignments; enhanced my leadership skills; and mentored and molded me in my Army career to be the best officer in the Army I can be,” she said. “Additionally, my entire family, close friends and other Army officers and noncommissioned officers have definitely supported and helped me become the Soldier I am today.”
She also credits some good advice she has been given in her Army career: “Know your job and perform well; take command and other broadening assignments to enhance your operational knowledge of the Army; remember that communication and attention to detail are key to being a successful Soldier and leader; and always take care of your troops, because they will take care of you.”
Perkins’s colleague in the ARCYBER Command Surgeon Cell, 1st Lt. Shaniqua Brinkley, called the colonel the epitome of retired Gen. Colin Powell’s definition of a leader as someone who earns Soldiers’ trust and confidence by solving their problems. Brinkley said managing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and keeping the Soldiers and civilians in ARCYBER’s global footprint abreast of current safety protocols, testing procedures and updates from the Center for Disease Control, has been just one example of how Perkins has been a problem-solving leader for the command.
“Working alongside her has been a rewarding yet educational assignment. She is a multifaceted leader with vast medical knowledge and expertise who has proven to be an asset to the command,” Brinkley said “Not only do I get the opportunity to work for a compassionate leader that cares, I have a front row seat to witness where hard work, dedication and loyalty may lead me as I advance in rank and position.”
“I am so proud of her work and accomplishments. She is a shining example of how reserve component Soldiers provide value to any command they integrate into," Johnson added.
In addition to her service with ARCYBER and the 75th, Perkins has served at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Martin Community Hospital at Fort Benning, Ga., and U.S. Hospital Kuwait at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. She has earned nursing degrees from Trenholm State Technical College, Troy State University School of Nursing and Chamberlain School of Nursing, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the Science of Nursing in Administration and Management from Aspen University.
ABOUT ARCYBER: U.S. Army Cyber Command integrates and conducts cyberspace operations, electromagnetic warfare, and information operations, ensuring decision dominance and freedom of action for friendly forces in and through the cyber domain and the information dimension, while denying the same to our adversaries.
ARCYBER ON THE WEB: https://www.arcyber.army.mil
ARCYBER TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ARCYBER
ARCYBER LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/us-army-cyber-command
ARMY CYBER ON THE U.S. ARMY WEBSITE: https://www.army.mil/armycyber
Interested in the challenge of joining the Army Cyber team? Check out military and civilian cyber career and employment opportunities by clicking on the "Careers" tab at www.arcyber.army.mil
Members of the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard interested in pursuing Active Duty for Operational Support (ADOS) or Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) tours or other opportunities with ARCYBER can get more information at https://go.usa.gov/xsZYG