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NEWS | Nov. 28, 2023

Chance enlistment leads to fulfilling Army Reserve career for young officer

By Alun Thomas 653rd Regional Support Group

When 1st Lt. Autumn Chin first stepped foot into an Army recruiting station she was with her then boyfriend who was contemplating enlisting. Chin had no plans to sign up, despite being born into a military family.

Eventually, Chin would be the one who signed on the dotted line; her boyfriend didn’t.

For Chin, the decision was an inspired one. Three years into her Army career she serves as a human resource officer with the 653rd Regional Support Group, continuing to learn and grow into her role.

Chin, 24, was born on the former Fort Hood (now Cavazos), her father stationed on the large Texas base in the late 90’s.

“I don’t remember a lot of it; I was too young. My father was an enlisted medic, so we moved around a lot. I was around five when he got out of the Army,” Chin said.

Chin’s family moved to Michigan, where she spent most of her formative years. Despite not favoring the cold temperatures, Chin had a positive childhood and pursued an interest in running.

“I’m a big runner … I love to run. I did cross country and track during all four of my high school years,” she said. “I would do the fall season of cross country, and winter indoor track. I was running all the time.”

After leaving high school Chin was undecided about her future, during which she made her trip to the recruiting station with her boyfriend.

“I didn’t have any plans to join the military at all. My boyfriend at the time went in to take the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) and see if he’d do well,” Chin said. “I went with him, and the recruiter said while you’re here, why don’t you take it too?”

Chin agreed to take it and the results were instant.

“They said you should think about the ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) program because I wanted to go to college,” Chin explained. “I ended up signing a four-year contract through a Minute Man Scholarship. I took it from there, jumped into it, and here I am today. My boyfriend never ended up joining.”

The journey that followed proved to be challenging, as Chin juggled multiple commitments.

“ROTC was very difficult; I was a waitress all through college, and also attending drills. I was very busy juggling all those responsibilities,” Chin said. “I told myself once I graduated it would be much easier – I’d have a job and then drill. The quality of my life has been so much better since.”

Eventually, Chin made the decision to move to Arizona in 2020 when her fiancé was offered a lucrative job.

“I moved to Arizona after my fiancé got a job with Raytheon down here. The company offered to move us, so I thought why not?” Chin explained. “When I was looking for job openings, the 653rd RSG had a position for a human resource officer which is what I wanted to branch in.”

Chin finally commissioned in May 2021, her father becoming her first salute. This began an anxious wait to complete her Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) at Fort Jackson, S.C.

“I didn’t attend BOLC until June 2022. I was drilling here for a full year before I was able to go to school,” Chin said. It was a difficult year waiting to attend – I wanted to be the best I possibly could at the position – it was a relief to finally get it done.”

Now fully settled into her Army career, Chin can see the bigger picture as she grows into her role as an officer and leader.

“This is my second unit, so seeing how people operate and the different dynamics has given me good insight into operations,” she continued. “I’ve had some mentors who positively impacted my experiences.”

What Chin initially dreaded about the Army is something she has come to love, something that’s the result of perseverance and hard work.

“When I was drilling as a cadet I didn’t like it at all. Now, it’s the exact opposite. I love coming to battle assembly and being with my Soldiers – it’s all come full circle,” Chin said. “I think you have to go through adversity to get to a positive place. Being a part of something that’s bigger than myself and having an impact on people’s lives means a lot.”

Chin is positive about her future in the Army and said the role it plays in her life is invaluable.

“I think once you get past your initial training and settle into your job and unit, there’s a sense of security. You have a family, a group, outside of your regular life,” Chin explained. “The responsibility it’s given me has been beneficial to my life in a way I never expected.”