An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.













NEWS | March 1, 2024

Army Reserve commander finds purpose through school and service

By Maj. Alun Thomas 653rd Regional Support Group

The sacrifice of military duty comes with demands that can place the most dedicated and resilient service member under pressure.

1st Lt. Kiera Butler, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 418th Quartermaster Battalion, 653rd Regional Support Group, has felt this pressure over the duration of her eight-year Army Reserve career and continues to meet it with authority and perseverance.

As a young company commander, Butler juggles the responsibilities of her doctorate in occupational therapy and the requirements of her Army Reserve duties hand in hand – both successfully.

Butler, 26, was born in Panama City, Fla., her father a retired Air Force veteran, something that would inspire her later service.

“I had a great upbringing, my dad spent 21 years in the Air Force,” Butler said. “Unfortunately, he’d retired when I was born so I didn’t get to live the life of a military brat, but I did have a reverence for service.”

Butler’s Army career began in earnest when she encountered the cost of attending college, needing a way to pay for her degree.

“I went to Auburn University and when I got there, I had no money for school, so I enlisted as a parachute rigger in 2016,” she said. “I had a blast at my Initial Entry Training … I also went to Airborne School, which is a requirement for a rigger.”

After completing her training, Butler had an inkling to attend the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program but wanted to gain more experience as an enlisted Soldier first.

“When I came back, I decided I was going to join ROTC, but I wanted to deploy to see if I really wanted to make the switch,” Butler explained. “I was forward deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, which was a phenomenal experience as a specialist, especially being attached to the 101st Airborne Division. When I came back, I decided I wanted to be in the room where decisions are made.”

Butler’s desire to be part of the decision-making process and lead Soldiers was the guiding force for her eventual choice to become an officer.

“My personality type is very inquisitive and when I was enlisted, I was always asking ‘why.’ I wanted to be in a position where asking ‘why’ was rewarded,” Butler added. “It’s important to know why you’re doing things and Soldiers need a purpose to buy into a plan. That’s why I went this route and I’m glad I can make a difference.”

This decision came with consequences, as her status as a full-time student was often at odds with her growing list of tasks as an officer.

“I was still a full-time student and working jobs on campus, so my military service clashed with my schooling,” Butler said. “It took me seven years to graduate with all my schools, deployments, and commitments. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Butler’s continued commitment to her schooling led her to Arizona to pursue her doctorate, which in turn took her to the 418th QM Bn.

“I applied for grad school in this area and was looking for units close by. As a quartermaster officer this unit was a fit for my branch and experience level,” she continued. “When I came here, I tried to learn as much as possible as the assistant S-3. The battalion leadership saw my desire to learn and that’s why they offered me company command as a second lieutenant.”

This was a huge responsibility for Butler, who had only commissioned in 2022 – however she has taken on the challenge with zest and fervor.

“Taking command has been an awesome experience so far. I always try to be present and get to know my Soldiers,” Butler said. “I want time with my Soldiers, that’s why I’m here. The leadership here are a constant wealth of knowledge and are always ready to support me. They would never let me fail. I’m learning every single day.”

Butler looks forward to her immediate future – all of which concerns continued Army service.

“When I get my doctorate – and if I’m not married without kids – I’m considering going on active duty,” Butler said. “I’ve investigated what an occupational therapist looks like on active duty, and it certainly appeals to me. It would be a great way to combine the things I love.”